FORT WAYNE – The lead was a mystical thing, which everyone wanted to touch but no one could hold for long Friday night.
The South Side Archers finally grabbed the lead and hung on for good in a 51-44 girls basketball victory over the host Snider Panthers.
This is the kind of game that we’ve gotten comfortable with and we’ve got to change that, South Side coach, Juanita Goodwell said.
We’d have the lead and we’d see good things going on, and then we’d take a step back. Tonight, I used more of my bench, and they really helped us maintain the progress that we were making and they kind of saved the game.
Six players scored for the Archers (14-2), who have defeated the Panthers twice in their last three games.
Archers junior Brittni Clopton led the way with 20 points.
We know that we have to keep playing hard and get through those tough spots, said Clopton, whose team is ranked No. 4 in Class 4A.
We have to take every game and assume it will be this type of (tough) game. We can’t hold back on anybody and (must) work hard to get the wins.
Sixteenth-ranked Snider had jumped out to the early lead; junior Karrina Smith’s baseline jumper gave the Panthers a 12-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
But the Archers went on a 14-2 run – highlighted by a Clopton hook shot – to take a 20-14 lead.
The Panthers (11-3) bounced back, tying it at 28 early in the third quarter when senior Meredith Shipman stole the ball and scored on a fastbreak.
Clinging to a four-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Archers worked the inside game, particularly with senior Ariana Simmons, who scored the first five points of the quarter by driving her way inside, and Clopton.
We did a lot of things good tonight that we didn’t do in the Snider game the first time, said Goodwell, whose team defeated the Panthers 63-55 on Dec. 29. We’ll go back and watch this game film and learn from tonight, and we’ll be a better team for the next game because of it.
It seemed as if the Archers had cemented the victory on Clopton’s putback for a 43-32 lead with 3:45 remaining, but the Panthers’ full-court press was effective.
And South Side began missing shots.
Bolstered by free-throw shooting, the Panthers got within three, 46-43, on a Smith basket.
But the Archers hung on to win.
Simmons scored 14 points for South Side.
Senior DeJoyah Johnson had seven points for the Archers. Sophomores Chelsea Rogers and Maria Moore both had four.
For Snider, Shipman finished with 14 points. Smith and senior Bryanna Moore scored six apiece.
Junior Kiersten Eley and senior Destiny Parker both scored five.