| By Myra Bean
The South Panola Tigers (21-6) claimed the district championship for the first time since 1997.
There have been runner-up teams since February of 1998 but none of them netted the Tigers a district trophy.
The Tigers downed Southaven 59-48 Friday night for the honors. With bad weather predicted before the end of the game, the Tigers played earlier at 6 p.m. while the Desoto County girls teams played at 7:30 p.m.
Olive Branch girls won the district title over Southaven 56-40.
The Tigers will be at home tonight, barring bad weather, to host Greenville-Weston (16-12, Division 3 runner up) who lost 83-82 to Madison Central (Division 3 winner) Friday night.
Southaven (2-26) will travel to Madison Central for the first round of the North State playoffs. Games start at 7 p.m.
For a team that had only won one regular season game and one district tournament game, the Southaven Chargers were still not in the giving up mode as they gave the Tigers a hard time Friday night.
It was that same tenacity that won the Chargers the game over Olive Branch Tuesday night.
The Tigers got the opening tip off and proceeded to build an 11-point lead 14-3 with 2:34 left in the first quarter. That was the last heard of the Tigers in that quarter as the Chargers got aggressive and cut the lead 14-10 going into the second quarter.
The Tigers were able to continue to use their inside game to score as Shawn Daniels got a slamdunk on a Rodney Gray steal with 3:32 left in the second quarter for a 26-15 lead.
Toward the end of the first half, Southaven hurt themselves with fouls and traveling calls which turned the ball over to the Tigers. The Tigers had no qualms about taking advantage of the mistakes.
Going into halftime, the Tigers led 32-21.
It was the Chargers who had the hot hands in the third quarter as they outscored the Tigers 16-10 to pull within five points at the end of the third quarter. 42-37.
The two teams scrapped it out in the fourth quarter for dominance. There was a lot of hustling and second chance points that both teams missed.
With 6:16 left in the game, Southaven had pulled within two points, 43-41.
Fouls on the part of Southaven sent the Tigers to the free throw lines where they performed admirably. Both Anthony Nelson and Daniels hit two of two free throws to go up 47-41 with 5:44 left in the game.
Southaven played tough defense but it was no match for the Tiger offense as Joseph Hankins ended the game on a slam dunk at the buzzer.
Tiger Rodney Gray was the leading scorer with 23 points. Other Tiger scorers include Anthony Nelson, 12 points; Daniels 10 points; Rod Moore, 7 points; Jarred Pope, 5 points and Joseph Hankins, 2 points.