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UPDATED: Team of the Week: Panthers Keep First Place in SAC with Concordia Win; Pick Up Marquee Northridge Win

Snider’s girls’ basketball team won back-to-back games last week. First, they beat Concordia on Friday night, which keeps them in first place in the SAC. With one game left in conference play, the Panthers have clinched at least a tie for first in the conference. They are a game ahead of Homestead and Northrop, who are tied for second in the conference. The Panthers have already beaten both the Spartans and the Bruins.

In the Concordia game, Snider had three players score in double figures. Jordyn Poole led the way with 20 points. Ciara Sims added 17. And Tia Phinezy came up with 15. The first quarter was fairly close, with Concordia having multiple early leads. But Snider led by eight at the end of the quarter, and continued to build the lead as the game went on.

“We, as a team and as coaches at Snider, value every opponent in every win. Obviously, this was more important because it kept us in the lead for the SAC title,” head coach Reggie Tharp said. “I thought the girls started slow but responded well in the second half and took control of the game.”

Then, on Saturday, Snider won a back-and-forth game against Northridge. The Raiders are 20-3 overall and currently ranked ninth in the IBCA poll. Poole and Sims scored in double figures once again (10 points each). Poole also led the Panthers with five assists, three of which came in the fourth quarter. Tia Phinezy led Snider in scoring with 15 points, and Zyann Phinezy added 10 more. The Phinezy’s came up with several big baskets in the fourth quarter.

The Panthers trailed at the end of each of the first three quarters. But Zyann Phinezy gave them the lead with two free throws early in the fourth. Northridge’s Morgan Cross gave the lead back to the Raiders on the ensuing possession. But shortly afterwards, Tia Phinezy, scored back-to-back transition buckets, putting Snider up 38-35. They held on to win 50-44.

“I think it just shows the character of this team. We were down also against Homestead and were able to come back and win in the fourth quarter,” Tharp said. “And I think it lets the girls know that we’re capable of playing bad and coming back and winning.”

With so many different players stepping up, the Panthers got great team efforts in both of their wins. Tia Phinezy also led Snider with seven rebounds against Northridge, and Saniah Sandlin added five. Also stepping up against the Raiders was Kyra Parker. She had two assists, two steals, and blocked a shot in the fourth quarter that led to one of Tia’s buckets.

“It’s one of those things as a coach that you love. But I think it’s just the character of this team,” Tharp said. “It’s who we are and how we compete every game. So it has become the culture at Snider high school.”

Nae Nae Donahue leads Snider in steals per game, and is third on the team in points and rebounds per game. She made a huge defensive impact against Homestead over a week ago. She also started against Concordia on Friday, but was in concussion protocol entering the Northridge game. Tharp said that the team plans to know by tomorrow whether or not Donahue will be available this week.

Not only is Snider sitting at first place in the SAC, they have an overall record of 18-2. They have marquee wins against conference rivals such as Northrop, Homestead, and Bishop Luers. They’ve also beaten non-conference opponents such as Norwell, Northridge, Fishers, and South Bend Washington. The Panthers now have one game remaining. At this point, Tharp is impressed with his team, but recognizes that they do have room for improvement in various areas.

“I feel good where we’re at with our starting five. But there’s always room for improvement with the bench and people stepping up in different roles,” Tharp said. “So with the uncertainty of Nae Nae’s  return, we will have to make sure everyone is prepared.”

The Panthers were scheduled to play at DeKalb tonight. But that game has been cancelled due to slippery road conditions. It will not be made up.

Snider is scheduled to play Carroll on Friday. If the Panthers win, they will finish 9-0 in SAC play. The Chargers are currently 6-13, and have won their last two games. That included a win over 13-6 Bishop Luers. The Chargers continue to be coached by Mark Redding, who is in his 12th season with the school. He’s won 370 games in his overall career.

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