Lady Panthers take first season loss to KY team in Sunshine Shootout
Published 12:00 pm Saturday, January 2, 2016
By MICHAEL MURRAY
As the old saying goes, “You can’t win ‘em all…” If you’re a member of the Lady Panthers’ basketball team this season, however, you can certainly win most of them.
After racking up an impressive series of 10 straight wins this basketball season, the Lady Panthers met their match on Dec. 29 at the Sunshine Shootout Tournament, in Naples, FL.
The ASHS ladies opened the tournament with a blowout 72-35 victory over the Everglades High School Gators, led by point-guard, Atyanna Gaulden, who tossed in 23 points to help lead propel the team to victory.
In the second round of the tournament, the Lady Panthers saw their toughest competition to date. The ASHS ladies took on the undefeated Elizabethtown High School Lady Panthers, who had traveled all the way from Kentucky to participate in the tournament. Along with the Elizabethtown squad came a 6’2” forward and Notre Dame commit named Erin Boley, whose aggressive play ignited her team to a 65-55 victory over the Americus crew.
The Lady Panthers returned to action on Dec. 30 for the third round of the tournament, taking on the Golden Gate Titans. ASHS made up lost ground in their third challenging contest of the tournament, pushing for a 48-44 win.
The tournament marked the first time this season that the Lady Panthers have been bested this season and dropped the team’s still-impressive record to 11-1 as the year 2015 came to a close.
The first round of the tournament was a breeze for the Lady Panthers, similar to the gulf breeze that was blowing in from off the coast of the tournament’s beach-side locale in southern Florida.
The Lady Panthers got off to a slow start in the initial frame of round one, with Everglades pulling ahead 10-9 over the first eight minutes.
Not to be outdone, the ASHS ladies came back with a vengeance before half-time, adding 29 points to their total while holding the Lady Gators to only 13.
Americus continued their domination of the court throughout the second half, adding another 34 points over the final two periods, while allowing only six points per frame to be scored on their opponents’ goal.
Though the second round of the tourney left the Lady Panthers with an unsightly blemish on their otherwise impeccable record, ASHS fans need not fret. The Americus crew is still going strong in 1-AAAA play. After six region matches, the Lady Panthers have not let another region opponent come within 18 points of a victory to date. This fact certainly bodes well for the Americus girls, who are scheduled to compete in eight more region 1-AAAA tests before the conclusion of the regular season.
Look for the Lady Panthers to continue their winning streak when conference play resumes. If the team continues with their current momentum, the Americus girls are almost certainly guaranteed a spot in the AAAA state playoffs, set to begin in February.
The Lady Panthers will kick off 2016 on Jan. 12, traveling to Albany High School to take on the Lady Indians. After traveling to Cairo for a Jan. 15 contest, the Lady Panthers will return to the Panther den in Americus on Jan. 16 to face Thomas County Central.