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South Side girls react like champs

– South Side’s double-digit lead had dwindled to three in the closing minutes of the SAC girls tournament title game against Snider.

Instead of panicking, the Archers responded like champions.

South Side captured its third tournament crown in four years, holding off Snider 63-55 Saturday at Wayne.

The top-seeded Archers led 56-45 with 4:24 remaining in the game. The second-seeded Panthers cut it to 58-55 after Meredith Shipman made two free throws with 1:32 to go. South Side scored the game’s final five points.

“We called a timeout and we just needed to calm them down and say ‘just stick to our game plan and let’s get back at it,’ ” South Side coach Juanita Goodwell said. “The key to tonight was getting it inside. We had to go back inside and attack. That’s what we were able to do in the third and fourth quarter.”

Ariana Simmons led the Archers with 17 points. Brittni Clopton and DeJoyah Johnson had 15 and 12 points, respectively.

“We made history, our seventh consecutive year (in the title game). And we won three of my years here,” Simmons said. “We just kept on fighting and pushed hard to get the win.”

Deja Wimby scored 25 points to pace Snider. Shipman added 14 points, but the Panthers couldn’t complete the comeback.

“We strive on working hard day in and day out at practice and it showed tonight on the floor, but unfortunately the game didn’t go our way at the end,” Snider coach Kelley Meiklejohn said. “We don’t give up a lot of points, but tonight South Side got a lot of second-chance points, and we let South Side do what they wanted to do. In order to win, we can’t do that.”

Snider closed the first quarter on an 8-2 run to take a 14-9 lead. South Side (12-2) responded with a strong spurt to finish the first half. The Archers outscored the Panthers 14-3 in the final 4:40 of the second quarter to take a 29-23 lead at halftime. Maria Moore and Lynnia Noel both had four points.

“We were able to feed the ball inside, get more ball movement, and it was more of an in-and-out game,” Goodwell said. “We got some shots up, rebounds, put-backs, and I think that made a big difference.”

So did the start of the third quarter. Five players scored for South Side during a 9-2 run to extend the lead to 38-27.

“At halftime, we were like, ‘We have to pick it up. We’re not going to lose,’ ” Simmons said. “We came out twice as hard.”

The Panthers (10-2) made a final charge in the fourth quarter, with Wimby leading the way. She scored seven points during a 10-2 run to make it 58-55. The Archers tightened up on defense and also made five free throws to secure the title.

“There could have been a lot of routes we could have taken and it all would have gone downhill,” Clopton said. “But we kept our heads up.”

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