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Panthers earn important region win at Shaw

COLUMBUS – Coming into Tuesday night’s game against Shaw, the Panthers faced a team that had an overall record of 8-16 and 4-9 in region play. However, it was Senior Night at Shaw High School. The Raiders didn’t play like a sub-par team, but the Panthers, led by Eric Hall’s 17 points, emerged victorious with an important 57-52 win in Region 1-AAAA play.

Nine of Hall’s game-high 17 points came on three three-pointers. Hall was not the only Panther in double-figures. Traveon Brown poured in 14 points in the winning cause.

“We really didn’t play that well. They (Shaw) were tough at home”, ASH Head Coach Michael Hoffpauir said. “Coming into this region, anytime you’re on the road, it’s going to be a tough game. This was a very, very physical…very tough game. I’m just happy. I don’t worry about how we get the win as long as we get the win. We are going to get everybody’s best.”

With the win, the Panthers improve to 21-2 overall and 10-2 in Region 1-AAAA play. They came into Tuesday’s game against Shaw tied with Westover at the top of the region standings at 9-2. Both teams are now tied at the top of the region at 10-2. Westover defeated Cairo 78-41 Tuesday night. Both teams have two games to go. The Panthers travel back to Columbus on Friday, February 2, for a rematch against Hardaway. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Their final game of the regular season is at home against Westover on Saturday, February 3. Tip-off for that game is also scheduled for 7:30 p.m. That game could potentially be for the number one seed in next week’s Region 1-AAAA Tournament. The Patriots have a home game against Carver on Friday, and then close out their regular season against the Panthers in Americus on Saturday.

“We knew they (Shaw) were going to come out ready to play. It was their senior night”, Eric Hall said. “We knew we had to come out and play. It’s always tough on the road. We had to come out and play team ball to get the win.”

Americus-Sumter opened the scoring when Elliz Knighton knocked down a three-pointer. This began an early 7-3 run by the Panthers. Shaw was able to tie the game with two baskets, but the Panthers were able to score to give themselves a 9-7 lead by the end of the first quarter.

ASH went on an 11-4 run in the second quarter, but Shaw scored the next two baskets, the second coming from Joshua Washington. Washington was fouled on the shot, but was unable to convert the three-point play. The Raiders cut the lead to three on a basket by T.J. Mitchell.  The Panthers led 20-17 with a little over two minutes left in the half.

Then with 2:09 left in the half, Shaw’s Jaylen Patterson was fouled while shooting and made both free throws. The Raiders applied some full-court pressure, created some steals and turned them into points. Shaw had a 25-22 lead with 56 seconds left in the half before Americus-Sumter Head Coach Michael Hoffpauir called timeout.

ASH guard Traveon Brown with the ball against a Shaw defender. Brown scored 14 points in the win over the Raiders.

Derrick Wofford was able to score to cut Shaw’s lead to 25-24. However, with two seconds left, Americus-Sumter had the ball, and Eric Hall hit a three-pointer off the backboard as the buzzer sounded to give the Panthers a 27-25 halftime lead.

Eric Hall led the Panthers in the first half with seven points and Traveon Brown scored six. Jalen Ken had eight first-half points and T.J. Mitchell scored seven in the first half for Shaw.

With a little over six minutes left in the third quarter, Shaw led the Panthers 29-27 before Eric Hall nailed a three-pointer. Traveon Brown followed it up with a drive and score of his own to give the Panthers a 32-29 lead. Then Hall hit another three-pointer with 5:30 to go in the third. However, T.J. Mitchell answered with a three-pointer for Shaw. Both teams traded baskets during the next few seconds. However, after that, there was no scoring from either team, but both teams scrapped and clawed until ASH got possession and called timeout with 2:51 left in the third. At this point, the Panthers had a 37-34 lead.

Out of the timeout, Kameren Parker hit a three-pointer to tie the score at 37-37. However, Traveon Brown answered with a three-pointer of his own to put the Panthers back on top.

Then with 1:05 to play and ASH with the ball, the Panthers executed an in-bounds play to Marcus Lusane, who scored to increase the lead to five. Shaw had a chance to tie and take the lead, but Kameren Parker missed two free throws, and the Raiders missed some easy shots on the inside. With two seconds left in the third, Joshua Lusane hoisted up a three-pointer, but it was an air ball and the Panthers would have to settle with a 43-37 lead to start the final quarter.

Elliz Knighton was able to extend the Panthers’ lead when he hit a jumper with a little over seven minutes left in the game. Even though they had an eight-point lead, the Panthers struggled at the free throw line with a little over six minutes left. Parker was able to score for the Raiders and was fouled. However, he couldn’t convert the three-point play. At this point, Americus-Sumter had a 45-39 lead with 5:38 left when Shaw Head Coach Terry White called timeout.

With 4:52 left, the Panthers extended their lead to 47-39 when Joshua Lusane scored on the inside. With a little over four minutes left, Shaw turned the ball over and Eric Hall was able to score a fast-break basket.

With 3:06 left in the game, and the Panthers up 49-41, Traveon Brown was fouled while shooting and made both free throws. With a ten-point lead, all the Panthers needed to do was play solid defense, take care of the ball and make free throws down the stretch. During parts of the second half, the Raiders applied full-court pressure, but the Panthers were able to pass their way through the press. Shaw, however, was able to cut the lead to 53-46 with a little over a minute to play. Then with 10.6 seconds to play in the game, ASH had a 55-48 lead. However, the Raiders got a steal and Lincoln Smith scored on a tip-in to cut the lead to five. However, it would not be enough as the Panthers went on to win 57-52.

With the loss, Shaw falls to 8-17 overall and 4-10 in Region 1-AAAA play. The Region 1-AAAA Tournament begins next week.