The ladies of South Iron kept the line moving this week, as they cruised past Ellington 67-52 on Tuesday and then mounted a ferocious fourth-quarter comeback to take down Eldon 71-68 on Saturday. The wins bumped the program to 4-1 on the young season.
The Ellington game was on the road, but that didn’t stop the Panthers from starting out on fire. They put up 20 in the first quarter and held the Whippets to just 10. Madison Ayers, Allecia Cornell and Drew Gayle all hit big three-pointers in the opening onslaught.
The second quarter was a tighter affair, as South Iron barely edged out Ellington 17-16, but they still found themselves with a comfortable 37-26 halftime lead.
That lead would only continue to grow, as the Panthers ripped off 19 points in the third before pouring in 11 more in the fourth. The Whippets could only muster 26 points in the final two frames and, while they tried to keep the game within reach, they just couldn’t climb that hill.
All five starters were in double figures in scoring for South Iron. Ayers led the way with 17 on five buckets and a three while going 4-of-6 from the line. Enzley Dinkins had 15, Cornell had 14 (including three from beyond the arc), Gayle had 11 and Anna Parker had 10.
A fine all-around effort that set the stage for the next contest.
The game against Eldon would be a tougher test. Taking on a Class 4 school and playing up three levels is never an easy task, but the Panthers brought it in this one.
Things didn’t start off easy though, as the Mustangs hung a 30-spot on the Panthers, who were only able to counter with 19. That 11-point deficit would only grow in the second quarter, as Eldon put up another 20 while South Iron could only scratch out 16. Parker’s 17 first-half points helped keep the Panthers in the game though, as they trailed 50-33 heading into the break.
The locker room speech from Head Coach Jimbo Blackwell must have recharged the batteries though, because South Iron buckled down on defense and found another gear in the second half. They outscored Eldon 16-13 in the third quarter, but still found themselves trailing by 14 heading into the final frame.
Turns out a 14-point deficit is no big deal if you have the level of talent the Panthers do on their roster. A huge three from Ayers, seven points from Dinkins and a collective 9-of-15 effort from the line propelled South Iron to an improbable 71-68 victory.
Ayers was great in this one with 21 points, and she nailed seven clutch buckets from the charity stripe in the second half. But Parker led all scorers with 26 points, and she drained three from beyond the arc, including a clutch pair in the third quarter.
This was a statement win. One that says these Panthers won’t go quietly, even if they look like they have an impossible mountain to climb. They now are 4-1 on the season and eagerly await their next challenge as they host Fredericktown on Monday night.