SUWANEE - Monday's semifinal of the Powerade Festival was hardly the best offensive night for the Parkview girls.
However, the top-ranked Panthers made up for it with tenacious defense that was the difference in their 57-38 win over Westside-Macon. The win put them into tonight's championship game against Lowndes. Tip-off is 6:35 p.m.
"We're really excited (about playing for the title)," said Parkview junior Maggie Smith, who finished with 10 points and played a big role in runs late in the second quarter and early in the third which helped the Panthers put the game away.
"I don't think we've ever won this tournament. One of our goals this season was to win our tournament and then win this one."
Parkview (9-0) is in a position to accomplish those goals thanks to smothering defense than forced 33 turnovers from Westside, which fell into the third-place game against North Gwinentt today at 3:20 p.m.
The Seminoles (4-3) trailed just 10-7 after the first quarter despite nine of those miscues in the opening frame, mainly because the Panthers had trouble converting those turnovers into points on the other end.
However, persistence paid off. Smith's three-point play in transition - combined with six points and an assist by Morgan Mitchell off the bench in the final 2:27 of the half - helped ignite a 15-5 run by the Panthers in the second quarter, which gave them a 25-12 halftime lead.
Many of those points came on the fastbreak after Westside turnovers, despite the fact Parkview did not use fullcourt pressure, and relied on its half-court defense to force the issue.
"We can pressure without pressing," Parkview coach Mike McCoy said. "We like to get in the halfcourt and get our pressure there and pressure the passing lanes, and it got us some easy baskets."
That trend continued after Tre'Anna Smith got the opening bucket of the second half to cut Parkview's lead to 25-14.
Katie Carroll answered with a 3-pointer from the right wing. Smith added a transition layup and two free throws after being fouled on the fast break. It keyed an 18-2 run that pushed the Panthers to their biggest lead at 43-16 after Lauren Coleman's three-point play with 1:15 left in the third quarter.
Coleman also did a lot of damage in that run, scoring seven of her team-high 14 points during the surge.
Megan Barnidge also had a strong game in the post with seven points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Westside's Jazzmin Grove led all scorers with 16 points, all of which came in the second half after spending most of the first half on the bench with foul trouble.