PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — The Lady Panthers gradually pulled away and then finished strong.
The Southern girls basketball team dropped a 54-36 decision to non-conference host Clay on Saturday in Scioto County, with the hosts outscoring the Purple and Gold in each period.
SHS (2-8) trailed by just three points, 15-12, after one quarter of play, with five different Lady Tornadoes scoring in the stanza. Clay went on an 11-to-7 second quarter run, stretching its advantage to 26-19 by halftime.
The hosts held Southern to just five points in the third quarter, as they extended the lead to 34-24 headed into the finale.
The Lady Tornadoes combined for 12 points over the final eight minutes, but the Lady Panthers capped off the 54-36 victory with a 20-point period.
Collectively, the Purple and Gold shot 14-of-51 (27.5 percent) from the field, including 1-of-5 (20 percent) from three-point range. From the charity stripe, SHS shot 7-of-15 (46.7 percent).
As a team, Southern recorded 27 rebounds, three assists, six steals and three blocks, while turning the ball over 24 times.
The Lady Tornado offense was led by senior Jaiden Roberts with eight points, half of which came from the free throw line. SHS senior Lauren Lavender was next with seven points, while Phoenix Cleland and Baylee Wolfe both recorded six points and seven rebounds.
Josie Cundiff hit Southern’s lone trifecta and finished with three points in the setback, while Paige VanMeter, Shelbi Dailey and Shelby Cleland scored two points apiece.
Lavender, Phoenix Cleland and Bailee Floyd had each assisted on one basket for the Purple and Gold. The SHS defense was led by Phoenix Cleland with two steals and two blocked shots.
The hosts were led by Jensen Warnock with a triple-double of 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 rejections, to go with a team-best six steals. Cameron DeLotell had 12 points on a quartet of three-pointers, while Sophia Balestra earned a double-double of 10 points and 15 rebounds.
Regan Osborn scored seven points for the victors, Hunnter Adams added five markers, while Ashley Hurt finished with two points.
The Lady Tornadoes won’t battle Clay again this regular season.
After continuing non-league play with River Valley on Monday, Southern will get back to work in the league on Thursday when Belpre visits Racine.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.