Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Parkview's Colby Smith (32) gets bumped by South Cobb's Antonio Noland (15) causing him to lose control of the ball during the first half of Monday's game in the Parkview Tipoff Classic.
LILBURN -- Even with a change in coaches, the Parkview girls' basketball team is still big on pressure.
The semifinals of the Parkview Tip-off Classic were no different as the No. 9 Panthers forced 32 turnovers, including 23 steals, en route to a 61-29 win over Riverdale.
The Lady Panthers (2-0) pressured the ball early and often, allowing themselves to back off in the second half.
"We came out ready to play," said Parkview head coach Tony Watkins. "We like to run eight or nine in and out of there to keep the pressure up."
Parkview started the game on a 16-0 run, including 14 points off nine steals. Overall, the Panthers had 11 first-quarter steals, while forcing another four turnovers.
With a 26-4 lead after one quarter, Parkview continued it's pressure, outscoring Riverdale 18-5 in the second quarter to take a 44-9 lead at halftime.
On the offensive end, Parkview got points from 13 different players, led by Helena Pouengue with 14 points. AJ Jefferson also chipped in eight points, while Tatiana Wayne and Ashlea Logan had six points apiece.
Riverdale was able to manage a small victory in the second half, outscoring the Panthers 20-17, but by then the pressure had stopped, allowing the Raiders a chance to run their offense. Keimairra Haylock led Riverdale with nine points, while Toni Thomas had eight.
Now, Parkview turns its attention to the championship game where it will play No. 8 Alpharetta.
"We're excited about the challenge," Watkins said. "When the brackets were set up, we hoped we'd play them in the finals. I'm sure they'll throw some things at us that we won't see in region play, and we'll throw some things at them that they won't see in their region. It should be an interesting contest."
In the boys' game, Parkview and South Cobb battled back-and-forth, with the Panthers seemingly in control with a 40-30 halftime lead. However, second-half pressure by the Eagles reigned supreme in the second half as they outscored the Panthers 34-18 in the fourth quarter to win, 82-72.
The Panthers controlled the game through the first half with crisp passing and finding the open man. Andre Chatfield, who finished the game with 25 points, scored at will in the first half to keep the Panthers on top.
Parkview was able to maintain the lead with 4:05 left in the game, but lapses in boxing out on missed free throws, and turnovers cost the Panthers the win.
"We knew we didn't play well in the first half," said South Cobb head coach Gregory Moultrie. "But, I told the guys at halftime that if we keep playing defense our way, good things would happen, and they did."
The pressure, turnovers and converting second opportunities gave South Cobb a 70-68 lead, one they would not relinquish the rest of the game. The Eagles hit seven of their eight free throws in the last minute of the game, continuing to pressure the Panthers to make mistakes.
And, if the pressure wasn't enough to seal the game, Devocio Butler slammed the ball home with four seconds to go, putting an exclamation point on the Eagles' win.
"This is the kind of game that you grow from," Moultrie said. "We grew up in this game and it's one we'll be able to look back on at the end of our season and pull from when we need a lift."
The Eagles were led by Corey Ross with 24 points and eight rebounds, while Butler had 15 points and eight rebounds. Jalen Cook added 11 points and nine steals.
For Parkview, Chatfield not only led in points, but also in rebounds with 13, while Jalen Abraham had 11 points, nine of which came from the free throw line. TJ Thomas also contributed 10 points and eight rebounds.
Parkview will now play Alpharetta in the third-place game, while South Cobb will take on Henry County for the championship.