By Richard Sharp
Lake Area Sports
GREERS FERRY-A new chapter in arguably the greatest rivalry in all of Class 1A basketball was written this past Friday night, as Concord worked their way to a sweep over host West Side at Brady-Hipp Arena with the Jr. Pirates, Lady Pirates and Pirates all hauling in 1A-5 league triumphs.
Concord-64 West Side-46
Following a back-and-forth first session of play, the Lady Pirates took control of the reins in this one, setting in the driver’s seat of the 1A-5 following the conclusion of the contest.
Concord went up 38-21 right before the conclusion of the first half thanks to a three-point play from senior Avery Southerland and an inside finish from classmate Ashlyn Deckard, extending out to a 20-point advantage after Southerland buried a trifecta to begin the second half. Senior forward Alex Southerland kept the Lady Eagles in it with a turnaround shot from in close before sophomore guard Sarah Carlton knocked down a corner triple to make it 41-26 before Concord senior Jaylyn Jefferson weaved her way through traffic for a right-handed finish up and in off the glass from the left block, leading to a drive to the basket and free throw from West Side sophomore Ashtyn Knapp.
Deckard got back in the scoring column with a tough shot in the paint over the outstretched arms of sophomore Kortnee Finch, adding a top of the key three-pointer from junior Nikki Duke for a 53-31 lead with eight minutes to go.
Avery Southerland opened up the fourth frame with two made shots from the charity stripe, before senior Madison Bailey struck from beyond the arc with a to bring the score to 56-38, however Deckard clipped on another bucket on a backdoor find from senior Annalise Cornett and Alex Southerland rang up another three, as Carlton picked off a steal and pushed it up to Bailey for a fast break finish, setting the finally tall at 64-46.
The Lady Pirates, who improved to 10-2 and 6-1 in league play, were led by Avery Southerland’s 22, getting help from Cornett’s 15 and Deckard’s 13. West Side (11-2, 5-2) was paced by 11 points from Bailey, Knapp and Carlton, adding Alex Southerland’s 10 into the mix.
Concord-54 West Side-39
The Eagles set the tone early in this nightcap battle, but it would be the Pirates’ who would come out victorious, snapping West Side’s nine-game winning streak while also extending their winning streak in the series to nine games.
West Side junior guard Josh Ballard opened up the scoring with a running floater in the lane, adding on a putback from classmate Nate Bittle, a jumper from junior Ashton Klepko and a triple from the left corner for Jared Cothren to give the host an early 9-0 lead, as Concord senior forward Hunter Spinks fired in a layup from the right block on an inbounds feed from classmate Dillon Helms.
Looking for an open teammate, Spinks would go on to drain a wide-open trifecta from the top of the key to cut the lead in half at 9-6, getting a free throw from junior forward Braxton Cousins to fall beforehand.
Coming out of the first quarter break, the Eagles got a put-back from junior forward Malachi Miller to go before the Pirates struck back with a tip-in shot from Spinks and an easy layup from Helms on a no-look pass from Cousins to pull within one at 11-10, taking their first lead of the game on another three up top from Spinks while senior guard Rodney Brock picked off a steal and took it coast-to-coast for the easy two, forcing a West Side timeout.
With the visitors working a 17-13 lead, senior guard Bryar Cousins came through with his first points on a three-pointer from the right corner before sophomore Travis Gentry answered right back with a runner in the lane, opening the door for the 5-8 Brock to convert inside against the 6-5 frame of Miller from in close before Spinks followed with a finger roll finish at the rim on a down screen from sophomore Gage Morgan to free Spinks up, putting the Pirates up 26-16 after the first sixteen minutes of play.
The two opponents answered each other’s calls throughout the course of the third period as the Eagles pulled within seven at 30-23 on a deep pull-up three from Gentry, making it a two-possession ballgame on a smooth euro-step finish for Miller. Braxton Cousins put Concord back up double-digits with an old-fashioned three-point play, leading to an inbounds tip for Gentry and a split at the free throw line for Morgan to bring the score to 36-27.
Cothren added a second three to his total to begin the final eight minutes of battle before Miller tacked on a floater to bring West Side within four but the Pirates answered with four straight from Braxton Cousins, as Klepko rattled home another three with 3:44 left in the game to pull close at 42-37.
The five-point deficit would be the closest the Eagles would get to overcoming the Pirates, as Concord put the nail in the coffin with a final 12-2 run, getting another finish from Braxton Cousins as well as an alley-oop finish for Spinks before cashing in on a combined six free throws between Helms, Brock and Spinks while Helms swished a short jumper to set the final at 54-39.
Spinks pumped in a game-high 22 points for the victors, who improved to 10-2 overall and moved into a tie with the Eagles atop the conference at 6-1. Miller had 13 for the home squad, who fell to 9-4.
Concord’s Jr. Pirates began the sweep with a victory over the Jr. Eagles, their second over their rivals after winning in the semifinals of the Julian Martin Invitational Tournament at Concord. Kegan Billington rang up 24 points for the Jr. Pirates, as the Jr. Eagles were paced by Ruston Holt’s eight.