QUITMAN — The smile on the faces of Southside Lady Southerners senior guards Olivia Allen and Brett Gardner tell a championship story.
For the first time since they’ve been in the seventh grade, the two had never won a championship trophy. There have been several runners-ups, but never the title … until Saturday night. Allen scored 23 points and Gardner had 19 points to lead the Lady Southerners past the Wonderview Lady Daredevils 65-41 in the championship game of the Quitman Fast-Break Invitational Tournament.
“So I asked them, because I didn’t know if they had won a championship and they said no,” Southside Lady Southerners head basketball coach Michael Harville said. “So that’s their first championship trophy and they are real proud of it. I tried to really push that on them, too.”
Callie Jo Robbins scored nine points, Kamie Jenkins added five points, five steals and five rebounds, Madison Gillmore and Alexia Blevins came in off the Southside bench to score three points each. Madison Edington added a free throw, a steal and had a rebound, but accolades went to Juliann Stevens who had seven steals and four rebounds to lead the Lady Southerners defensive effort.
“They are getting in a flow and we are getting used to each other,” Harville said. “We are just trying to do the little things better, like sharing the ball a little better and you could see us consciously looking for each other. It wasn’t selfish play.
“We are learning how to move in our offense and get ourselves open.”
Southside (5-1) forced 25 Wonderview turnovers in the game, including four to start the game.
Jenkins started the game by stealing an Lady Daredevil’s inside pass and Allen hit a three-pointer for the Lady Southerners. Stevens made a steal and passed to Robbins for a layup, then Robbins made a steal and Allen made another three-pointer for Southside. Gardner added a trey with 4:25 to go in the first quarter for an 11-0 Lady Southerners lead before Wonderview (10-30 could get a basket to fall.
Jenkins scored inside for Southside, D’Asia Simpson scored two baskets in a row for the Lady Daredevils. Jenkins made another steal and passed to Allen for a layup and a 15-6 lead. Wonderview added jumper from Layla Terry to cut the Lady Southerners lead to 15-8 by the end of the first period.
Terry got a steal and found Abbigail Baker inside for a three-point play, but Allen answered quickly for Southside with a trey on the other end to extend the lead to seven points, 18-11.
After two Wonderview free throws, Gardner hit a three-pointer off a Stevens’ steal and Jenkins put in two free throws to put Southside up 23-13 with 4:22 to play before halftime.
A minute later, Gardner made another three-pointer and hit a free throw for a 27-13 advantage. Following a Lady Daredevil basket, Gardner completed a three-point play to lift the Lady Southerners to a 30-15 lead. Wonderview hit one more free throw before the end of the second period.
Robbins sank a free throw after a Stevens steal to start the third quarter and Allen completed a three-point play seconds later to make it 34-16 Southside. After Wonderview got a jumper to fall, Gillmore, who was in for Jenkins, hit a turn around bank shot in the lane for the Lady Southerners, but the Lady Daredevils made seven points in a row to cut the lead to 11 points with 3:58 to play in the period.
Jenkins put in a free throw, Jenkins made a steal and Robbins made two free throws for Southside before Wonderview scored again. Allen put in a basket and the Lady Daredevils put in three points before Gardner saw a wide open Robbins under the basket for an easy layup. Gardner got the rebound off a missed shot and passed to Allen for a three-pointer with two seconds showing to put Southside ahead 46-30.
Gardner scored the first three points of the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 19 points and after Gillmore put in a free throw, Gardner hit a three-pointer to put Southside up 53-33 with 4:44 to play.
Wonderview made a three-point play, but Allen and Robbins both hit their free throws before the Lady Daredevils completed another three-pointer. Allen scored to push Southside’s lead back to 22 points, 61-39 with 1:41 to go. Blevins put in three free throws and Edington added a free throw in the final minute for the Lady Southerners.
“Preparation is super important,” Harville said. “We had only one film on Bigelow and had a tough one with them. We spent a little time with it, but in a tournament your playing game after game after game. We had four games this week. It was a tough stretch.
“You have to put a lot of work in with the kids and, man, they stay dedicated and that’s what’s great. And they get rewarded for it. I told them the finals of any tournament gets us ready for the next finals. That was a good one for us.”