South Pointe center P.J. Heath brought plenty of defensive energy with shot blocking and rebounding in Tuesday's first-round Class-AAA playoff contest against Chapman.
That energy was more than enough to spark the Stallions to an 82-46 victory at South Pointe's gymnasium.
South Pointe, the Region 4-AAA champion, improved to 13-11 and will face Berea, which was a 67-56 winner over Seneca on Tuesday night. The teams will square off at 7 p.m. Friday.
Chapman, the fourth seed from Region 3-AAA, finished the season at 8-12.
Heath wowed the crowd on several occasions by swatting away four Panthers' shots. He also dominated the paint with 14 points, including two emphatic slams on rebounds.
"I get a lot of energy on the defensive side," Heath said, adding that is the key to the Stallions' transition game. "Momentum starts with defense, and I wanted to do everything that I could to give us momentum."
Indeed, the Stallions defense generated plenty of early momentum. Forcing a series of turnovers and defensive rebounds, South Pointe displayed a fast-paced, up-and-down attack for a 36-point explosion in the first quarter.
Leading by 30, 45-15 at the half, South Pointe cooled off in the third and allowed the Panthers to mount a run. Panthers guard Deebo Samuel got a three-point play on a layup and foul, and sank a 3-pointer on the next possession, cutting the deficit to 18 at 50-32.
Heath and Tyrice Brice scored four straight Stallions points, but the Panthers ended the quarter with a 6-0 run, highlighted by Jamare Lovett's reverse layup at the buzzer.
"We did not have a good third quarter," South Pointe coach Melvin Watson said. "But we started playing better defensively and began to push the tempo."
Heath began the fourth with a blocked shot. He immediately rushed down court and crashed the offensive board with a slam on a rebound.
Guard Zay-Zay Williams drove for a layup on the next possession, and Heath took an inside feed and scored while being fouled. Anthony Johnson then stole the Panthers inbound pass and banked in a layup to complete the 8-0 Stallions run and push the lead to 63-38 with 6 minutes, 13 seconds remaining.
"P.J. played real big for us. He was a man in the middle," Watson said. "When we needed a big basket, it seemed that he provided that for us. And when they managed to beat our guards off the dribble, he rotated over and got huge shot blocks."
The Stallions also got 15 points from Anthony Johnson and 10 from Jamil Simpson.
Samuel, who made two 3-pointers, paced the Panthers, who are led by former USC Spartanburg coach Jerry Waters.
South Pointe 82, Chapman 46
South Pointe -- Jay Hart 2, Cody Blake 9, Zay-Zay Williams 6, Dillon Bruton 2, Gerald Nabritt 2, P.J. Heath 14, Tyreece Brice 18, Anthony Johnson 15, Joel Knox 2, Jamil Simpson 10, Isiah Rodney 2.
Chapman -- Shawn McMillan 6, D.J. Lynch 2, C.J. Thompson 4, Colton Ayers 4, Deebo Samuel 20, Jamare Lovett 6, Josh Henderson 2.
3-pointers -- South Pointe 5 (Brice 1, Simpson 2, Blake 1), Chapman 4 (McMillan 2, Samuel 2). Team fouls --South Pointe 10, Chapman 13. Fouled out -- none.
Records: Chapman 8-12; South Pointe 13-11.