Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

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November 28, 2012

Panthers and Lady Panthers swept in doubleheader at Dougherty

ALBANY — The Americus-Sumter Panthers and Lady Panthers traveled to Albany on Tuesday night for a doubleheader to open the basketball season against the Dougherty County Trojans. The Panthers and Lady Panthers both took a while to warm up, and at the end of the night each team came up just short in their comeback attempts to begin the season.

The Lady Panthers took the court first and it was a tale of two halves in their first contest of the year. Americus-Sumter was outscored 22-9 in the first half before catching fire in the second half to outscore the Lady Trojans 37-29. Unfortunately for the Lady Panthers a two point second period would be the nail in the coffin as the Lady Trojans stretched their lead just far enough to escape with a 51-46 victory.

Lady Panthers head coach Evelyn Wright knows that her team did not play up to their potential in the first half, and that made the difference in the game. “We didn’t pay the first half. We outscored them in the second half, but we just didn’t show up in the first half. We are just trying to find ourselves, and we are going to go back to the drawing board and work hard.”

Wright also said that the Lady Panthers defense must create more scoring opportunities for their offense for her team to be successful in the remainder of the season. “Our defense is going to have to create our offense. Defense wins games, so we are going to have to get better at defense.”

Kayla Bowens had a tremendous first game for the Lady Panthers scoring 20 points, with 19 of those coming in the second half. De’Kayla Blackshear and freshman JaKayla Stevenson tied for second highest scorer with five points each.

In the boy’s game, the Panthers also started a bit slow and outscored their opponent in the second half in a nail-biting loss to the Trojans. Although they weren’t outscored quite as bad as the Lady Panthers in the first half, the Panthers still trailed the Trojans 22-17 at the halftime break. In the second half the Panthers would outscore the Trojans 26-23, but they too would come up just short in a close 45-43 loss to their Region 1-AAAA foe.

Xavier Willis led the Panthers in their first game of the season with 14 points, followed by Mike Russell with eight points. Montavious Jones led the Trojans scoring attack with 14 points, followed by teammate Cordarious Pickett with 12 points in the victory.

Despite the slow start by the Panthers, Americus-Sumter head coach Michael Coley was encouraged by his team’s improvement in the first game. “We started off slow, and you could tell in our first game we kind of came out with the jitters. We played through it though, and made some good adjustments in the second half.”

Coley said that although he hates to lose, he is confident that his team made some good progress and will be ready for another tough match-up on Friday night. “We are going to look at the film and make some adjustments, and we are going to be ready on Friday night (for Monroe).”

The Panthers and Lady Panthers will take to the court at Americus-Sumter High School South Campus on Friday night in their first home games of the season against the Monroe High School Tornadoes and Lady Tornadoes. The girl’s game will tip off at 6 p.m., followed by the boy’s game. This will be another important Region 1-AAAA match-up for each team as the Panthers and Lady Panthers try to get their seasons on the winning paths to a Region Title.

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