PELHAM -- It was a simple look from Pelham head coach Antonia Tookes.
But in that look, Pelham players said they could feel her intensity.
When it gets to this point in the season, coaches search for any form of motivation to help get their team into the next round of the state basketball tournament.
Pelham used an 11-0 run midway through the third quarter after Taylor County had trimmed Pelhams double-figure lead to six and ran away with a 53-37 victory Monday night in the second round of the GHSA Class AA girls tournament.
They made us play their game at times, Pelhams Destiny Smith said. But in the second half, we started to play our game, getting steals and rebounds. We were able to win, so thats all that matters.
Taylor County (21-11) gave Pelham all it could handle, using a 2-3 zone and forcing the Hornets to the outside. But Tookes said her team lacked the defensive intensity she has grown accustomed to this season.
We did seem a little out of sync, Tookes said. But if we play defense the way I like to play defense, we would have generated a lot more turnovers.
Pelham built leads as high as 12 in the first half before Taylor County charged back. Rasheeka Simmons scored six of her 16 points to open the third quarter to make it 26-20 before Pelham finally caught fire and ignited the capacity crowd.
Hilary Williams stole a pass at midcourt, dished to Destiny Thomas on the wing before Thomas found Briunna Freeman underneath the basket for an easy layup that made it 34-20 with 2:44 left in the third.
It was that play that put the Hornets in command.
I dont know if that play was a game-changer or not, but it did extend the lead back to where we wanted it to be, Tookes said. These girls were prepared mentally. They knew what they had to do as far as creating turnovers, and we were able to get one.