PELHAM — Pelham coach Antonia Tookes didn’t award a game ball after Friday night’s 60-41 win against region foe Seminole County.
But she knows exactly who would have received that honor had she decided to — senior Octavia Kierce.
It wasn’t just Kierce’s 17 points that had Tookes impressed after The Herald No. 4 Lady Hornets’ 10th straight win, it was everything else the 5-foot-8 senior did.
“She plays power forward, but she was everywhere (Friday night),” Tookes said about Kierce, who also had five rebounds, four steals and three blocks. “This was Octavia’s best game defensively, and that’s what we have been preaching: defense, defense, defense. She rebounded, she blocked shots, she pushed the ball when she hit the boards. She just played a great ball game.”
Playing a tight man-to-man defense and pressing for much of the night, Tookes said her team had one of its best defensive games of the season, and the Lady Hornets committed a season-low four turnovers. The stock couldn’t be much higher right now for the state-ranked No. 9 Lady Hornets, who are 7-0 in Region 1-A play and haven’t lost since dropping their season opener to Tift County.
“I would certainly say Pelham would be one of the teams to beat in the region,” Seminole County coach Jesse McLeod said. “Pelham did a good job (Friday night). They took care of the ball better than we did, and that made all the difference.
Kierce wasn’t the only Lady Hornet that Seminole County had trouble guarding. Senior Briunna Freeman had 17 points and a team-high nine rebounds, and Herald Super 6er Shay Reece added 11 points.
Alexus Watson scored a team-high 12 points for Seminole (5-5, 0-1), while Katrese Brown and Marissa Mike added 11 and 10, respectively.
Pelham led by just four points after the first quarter, then Seminole pulled to within two points with two minutes left in the second quarter.
However, the Lady Indians committed a series of turnovers in the final moments of the second quarter, and Pelham took a 35-23 lead into the half.
“We played with a lot of intensity,” Tookes said. “(After the game) I was telling them to continue to take it one game at a time and try to get better each ball game. Because we have Cairo (tonight), so we can’t enjoy this too much.”
Entering tonight’s game against Class AAA Cairo, Pelham has played well this season against teams from higher classes. After losing to Tift County (AAAAA), the Lady Hornets defeated Bainbridge (AAAA) and Coffee (AAAAA).