Piedmont stays perfect, reaches tourney title
Led by double double-doubles, Piedmont (9-0) trailed at the half but steadily pulled away from Northwood (4-5) in the second half for a 71-56 win and a spot in Saturday night’s championship game of the Lee County Basketball Shootout Friday afternoon.
Forward Brady Meggs went for 20 points and 14 rebounds and center Cameron Tripp added 15 points and 12 boards for the Panthers. Point guard Qualen Blakney added a superb game with 12 points, eight assists and eight boards as the inside and outside talent of the Panthers, making the trip to Lee County from Monroe and the 2A Rocky River Conference, was too tough for the Chargers throughout the second half.
Turnovers, some Charger-caused, some self-inflicted, hurt the Panthers in the early minutes. The first four Panther possessions ended in turnovers and the Chargers took a 5-0 lead.
Piedmont answered with the next 11 points. Northwood got the next seven points for a 12-11 lead through one quarter. The back-and-forth momentum continued to a 28-26 Northwood halftime edge.
Charles Hope led the Chargers with seven points in the half. Meggs had nine points for the Panthers.
A spurt of three-point shooting got the Panthers rolling shortly into the second half. Blakney and Hyatt connected on triples on consecutive trips, changing a 32-32 score to a 38-34 Panther lead, a lead Piedmont held the rest of the way.
Even around the hoop, the scoring came in threes for the Panthers. Meggs, Hyatt and Tripp all turned in three-point plays, some on transition and some off nice moves in the low post.
With a Chris Smith three-pointer, followed by Ti Pinnix turning a steal and break into a three-point play in the lane, Northwood got the first six points of the fourth quarter taking a 47-46 lead.
A Panther three-point play by Hyatt put Piedmont back in front by a point, 51-50, and the Panther offense rolled from there.
A bucket on a post move by Tripp made it 57-50 and forced a Charger timeout with 5:11 left. Tripp, a sophomore, got all 15 of his points and 10 of his 12 boards in the second half.
A run of three straight Piedmont baskets, capped by a Panther break and a 15-foot jumper by Meggs took the lead suddenly to 13 points with a little over two minutes left.
Aumad Walker led the Chargers with 13 points, five assists and five steals. Hope and Smith scored 11 points each.
Northwood moves on to play in the third-place game of the Shootout; Saturday at 4 p.m. at Lee County’s Main Gym.
Piedmont advances to the championship game and a contest against Friday night’s winner between Lee County and Jordan.