In picking up its fourth straight win, the Chapel Hill Panthers erased a 13-point halftime deficit to visiting South Paulding Saturday and eked out a 63-62 win.
Senior post player Jazmine Lawrence, who spent most of the first half on the bench in foul trouble, scored 15 of her game-high 19 points in the second half to help the Panthers win.
“We’re on a roll now,” Lawrence said. “We all want to win, keep going, and beat everybody.”
Chapel Hill went into halftime trailing 40-27 after Lawrence got in foul trouble and guard Taylor Ramsey tweaked a knee which she continued to play through. The Panthers leading scorer and sixth-man, junior Breanna Stephens, helped keep her team as close as she could when Lawrence went out.
“My mindset was attack the girls that got her in foul trouble so that they would be in foul trouble,” Stephens said. “Even though we [didn’t have Jaz] we still had other people, so I had to get them into the game.”
Stephens finished with 15 points and assists as she provided several Panthers with numerous point-blank opportunities at baskets, including Lawrence when she returned to the lineup at the start of the third quarter.
“We usually make eye contact or if she comes to my side I usually know she’s going to throw me the ball if she doesn’t have an open shot,” Lawrence said of Stephens’ ability to find her.
With 4:30 left to play Chapel Hill took its first lead of the game, 52-50 after reserve guard Shelby Robinson connected on a three-pointer. Known for her defense, Robinson affected the game with that as well, but even she was a little surprised at her impact from behind the three-point line.
“I only took the shot because I was open,” Robinson said. “I was surprised it went in.”
Later after the Panthers missed a pair of free throws, Robinson contested the rebound and forced it out off of South Paulding. Stephens would eventually go to the foul line and hit one free throw to give Chapel Hill a 61-59 lead with 19 seconds left to play.
“I’m just a hustle player,” Robinson said. “I’m not the best offensive player, but everybody has a role when you try to go to championships and try to do something big you have to realize you have to play a role. You can’t always be a star. You have to do whatever you can to help your teammates. That’s why I am here, to help my teammates.”
After a South Paulding turnover, Stephens iced the game with two free throws, giving Chapel Hill a four-point lead with seconds remaining.
The win came a day after the Panthers defeated Alexander on a game-winning three-pointer by Alexia Wallace. That win followed wins over Newnan and Allatoona.
“If we can continue this gritty, gutsy play, we’re going to be tough to reckon with down the stretch,” Chapel Hill head coach Christopher Long said.
Chapel Hill visits region-leader Hiram on Tuesday.