The Lady Panthers of South Iron had their holiday dreams come true this week, as they won their second consecutive Bob Sechrest Jr. Central Christmas Tournament. They rolled through Arcadia Valley and Steelville before bouncing Fredericktown in the Finals. The impressive run upped their record to 11-1 and extended their winning streak to nine games.
The first game was not a close one, but it was an impressive show from the South Iron Ladies on both sides of the ball. They scored 73 total points and forced a whopping 33 turnovers in a convincing 73-44 win.
Madison Ayers and Enzley Dinkins were on fire in this one. They each had eight points in the first quarter and the Panthers scored back-to-back 20-point frames in the first half. Dinkins, who had a game-high 28 points picked up another eight in the second quarter.
South Iron kept their foot on the gas after the half, but didn’t have to do too much. They score 18 and 15 points in the final two quarters and nursed a big lead into a Semifinal appearance. Dinkins led the way, but Ayers was clutch as well with 20, and Anna Parker managed 14 of her own.
The next test came against Steelville, who is always a tough matchup. South Iron was ready though and poured in 22 points in the first quarter, while allowing just three and forcing 11 turnovers. Drew Gayle hit a pair of big-time buckets from beyond the arc, and Ayers chipped in with six points of her own.
The second quarter would be a much dimmer affair. The Panthers managed just four points, and fell apart in most regards. They rebounded after the break though and came out gunning in the third quarter with a 21-point effort. The defense was still intact as well, and never let Steelville crawl back into it. After an additional 14 in the fourth, South Iron had earned a 61-35 victory and a trip to the Finals for a second straight year.
Dinkins was a Hunger Games-esque “Girl on Fire” in the second half, draining 18 points on nine buckets. She finished with 24 to lead the team, and was supported by Ayers, who had 16 of her own. Those performances paved the way to the finale.
And what a finale it was. The Lady Panthers stumbled in the beginning but churned out a second half performance that would put butter-makers to shame.
They managed just 11 points in the first quarter, followed by a mere six in the second, and found themselves chasing a 21-17 deficit. The Blackcats of Fredericktown didn’t count on Anna Parker though. After a pair of threes in the first quarter and four more points in the second, she was primed and ready for the second half.
The Blackcats scored the first bucket after the break, but South Iron erupted after that and went on a 38-10 run. Parker had five more in the third and eight more in the final quarter. The Panthers scored 42 combined points in the final half of the tournament and took down Fredericktown 59-42.
Allecia Cornell hit a big three in the fourth (her third of the game) to help seal the deal, and finished with 13 points overall. Parker led the charge though with 23 total points to lead all scorers, and pace the offense. Dinkins had 11, and the Lady Panthers had themselves another Christmas Championship.
Assistant Coach Jeff Ayers commented on the game, saying, “Very sluggish start as Fredericktown’s zone was giving us issues. Plus the tempo was not the speed we wanted. We made some half time adjustments and the girls started executing. Plus our intensity and ball pressure was much better, which helped the tempo get to the pace we wanted. We scored 42 points in the second half because the girls raised their level of play.”
Clutch performances always seem more epic around the holidays, and this one was no different. The Panthers have now lost just one game this season and will look to ring in the new year by continuing their impressive nine-game winning streak.
They will attempt to keep the line moving in 2023 on January 3rd when they travel to Bunker.