Southwest DeKalb girls pull off second half comeback

Southwest DeKalb High School’s girls’ basketball team won a 50-48 battle against St. Pius X Catholic High School Jan. 26, propelling the Lady Panthers to a 12-0 region record.

To get to 12-0, Southwest DeKalb (13-5, 12-0) had to come back from a double-digit halftime deficit to beat St. Pius (11-9, 9-2).

The first half—specifically the second quarter—was all St. Pius with a 10-3 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 25-15 lead at halftime.

Kelly Stephenson helped St. Pius build its first half lead with 11 points—six of which came from three—before halftime.

Southwest DeKalb made the necessary adjustments and held Stephenson to three points in the second half.

An adjustment made by Southwest DeKalb used a full court press to cause St. Pius turnovers while limiting normal offensive possessions. After Southwest DeKalb’s Jan. 21 win at Lithonia, head coach Kathy Walton said the press was something her team is trying to make part of its identity.

Southwest DeKalb turned St. Pius over on consecutive possessions in the second half, forced St. Pius turnovers in transition and in half court sets, and also won the rebounding battle in the third quarter. The result was the Panthers only trailing 35-31 heading into the fourth quarter.

Southwest DeKalb guards Camille Files (5) and Alex Jackson (7) combined for 12 steals on the night.

A few minutes later, Jackson gave Southwest DeKalb its first lead of the night at 36-35.

Alex Jackson impacted the game on offense and defense. Photos by Jay Phillips

Southwest DeKalb also used its physical style of play to crash the glass and get to the free throw line. The Panthers shot 26-37 at the line.

At one point in the second half, it looked as if St. Pius got the break needed to regain the lead. Files and forward Brooklyn Scrubb were shaken up on the same play and both had to miss time for the Lady Panthers. They combined for 12 of Southwest DeKalb’s 31 points before the fourth quarter, while Scrubb was also one of the top rebounders.

Southwest DeKalb’s defense held strong while the two were out and both returned to the game before it ended.

Both teams traded baskets for the rest of the fourth quarter, with Southwest DeKalb holding a narrow lead.

With just under one minute left to play, Southwest DeKalb took a two-possession lead off bonus free throws. The Panthers then stole St. Pius’s inbounds pass—with Jackson coming away with the ball.

However, St. Pius had one last run left. Stephenson hit a three for St. Pius with 13 seconds left in the game to bring Southwest DeKalb’s lead to 48-47, but the Panthers hung on and hit their free throws to win.

Southwest DeKalb has three games remaining on its five-game homestand, with Clarkston (Jan. 28), Stephenson (Jan. 29), and Chamblee (Feb. 4) high schools visiting.

St. Pius is back in action Jan. 29 when it hosts Martin Luther King Jr., High School.

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