Lady Griffins Wear Down Pelion

Jada Martin (10) strips the ball from Pelion’s Alex Goodwin.

While the offense sputtered through three quarters at Pelion High School Friday night, the Fairfield Central defense managed to keep the game within reach, long enough for the offense to find its spark and grind out a 51-39 win over the Lady Panthers.

The Lady Griffins trailed throughout the game, and were down 33-30 going into the final frame of the 2A Region III battle. With 6:45 to play, Fairfield’s Chyna Moore sank a jumper to put the Lady Griffins up 34-33, and the momentum shift was on. With the Lady Panthers showing clear fatigue in the final minutes, the Lady Griffins were able to hold Pelion scoreless for a full three minutes while the offense built a 43-35 lead and raced toward the finish line.

Pelion opened up play with a passing game that cut through the Lady Griffin press, splitting the middle and finding the basket underneath. The Lady Panthers took advantage of early take-aways and Griffin turnovers to post a 10-4 first quarter lead. The Lady Griffins, meanwhile, struggled to find the hoop, going scoreless from the 4:15 mark in the first quarter until 5:28 in the second when a pair of baskets cut Pelion’s lead to 14-8. As the half drew to a close, it was obvious the Lady Panthers needed a breather. Pelion had lost the thread that had guided them through the Griffin press and Fairfield Central was gaining ground on take-aways of their own. Outscoring the Lady Panthers 15-10 in the second period, the Lady Griffins took a narrow 20-19 deficit into the break.

Pelion and the Lady Griffins began a see-saw battle in the third, with Jada Martin giving Fairfield a brief 21-20 lead from the foul line with 7:26 to play in the quarter. But the Lady Panthers once more began carving up the Griffin press while Fairfield’s offensive well went dry. Pelion ran up a 27-21 lead with 4:25 to go, but a 3-point basket by Tanise Davis cut that lead to 27-24 with 3:42 remaining. Davis then took a steal on the Lady Panthers’ next possession and laid it in for a pair, bringing Fairfield Central to within a single point, 27-26, with 3:06 left in the third.

Steals and turnovers were the name of the game Friday night and the bane of the Lady Panthers. Although Pelion had capitalized early on steals and Griffin miscues, the Lady Griffins ultimately took the ball out of Pelion’s hands 33 times on the night en route to their come from behind win. Martin alone accounted for 10 steals, seven of which came in the gritty second half. Chelsea Seibles picked the Panthers’ pockets five times in the second half to give her a total of eight steals on the night. The Lady Panthers, meanwhile, turned the ball over unassisted 14 times.

Davis tied the game at 29-all with 1:14 left in the third, but the Lady Panthers edged out front once more, 33-30, in the closing seconds of the quarter. The Fairfield defense doubled down in the final frame, pestering the Lady Panthers into errors, forced and otherwise. After Moore’s 2-point basket at the 6:45 mark, the Lady Griffins never trailed again.

FC—Christian Thompson: 4, Chyna Moore: 4, Chelsea Seibles: 4, Jada Martin: 23, Tanise Davis: 9, Raven Rivers: 5, Delexus Cloud: 2.

PHS—Daphne Thompson: 2, Jessica Williamson: 6, Ashley King: 15, Stephanie Walker: 4, Alex Goodwin: 6, Delerishia Phillips: 6.

Tuesday night, the Lady Griffins closed out regular season play with a 64-24 drubbing of North Central. With second place in the region locked up, Fairfield will likely host Chesterfield in the first round of the state playoffs Feb. 12.