Americus-Sumter Panthers crush Cairo

Published 4:05 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2019

AMERICUS – After their 66-43 win over Monroe (Albany) on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, the Americus-Sumter panthers (16-3, 8-3) stepped back into Region 1-AAAA play when they hosted the Syrupmakers of Cairo. The Panthers took a 16-6 lead in the first quarter and never looked back on their way to a 71-26 rout of Cairo (3-17, 2-11).

Considering their disappointing overtime loss to region leaders Carver (Columbus) on Saturday, January 19, it felt good for the Panthers to get another Region 1-AAAA win to keep pace with the Tigers.

“That’s one of the things that we’ve been working on: not letting other teams get back in the game,” ASHS head coach Michael Hoffpauir said. “It’s kind of hard playing with a lead, but tonight, we showed it and we showed it last night (January 21) against Monroe. We took an early lead and didn’t let up. I’m trying to teach the guys to put their feet on the neck of the opponent and hold them down. We did that tonight.” Coach Hoffpauir was also very pleased with the reserves that came into the game late in the second half when the Panthers had a huge lead. “That’s what we build on. We’ve got strength in our numbers,” Hoffpauir said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys that can actually play. Right now, it seems like our guys, after that loss to Carver (Columbus), talked and brought everybody together. Now we can kind of re-energize and pick up steam going into the region tournament.”

Americus-Sumter forward Joshua Lusane dunks against the Syrupmakers. Lusane posted a double-double, scoring 22 points and grabbing 12 rebounds against the Syrupmakers.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Joshua Lusane posted a double-double for the Panthers. Lusane led the team in scoring with 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Trae Brown, Jakontist Gordon and Michael Flemming each scored eight points. Brown and Gordon both hit two three-pointers on the night. Nick Gosier led the Syrupmakers with 13 points.

Both teams had trouble scoring for the first few minutes of the first quarter. It wasn’t until half way through the quarter that Lusane scored two-straight baskets to give the Panthers a 4-0 lead. This prompted a timeout by Cairo. However, the Panthers kept the momentum as they scored five more points to take a 9-0 lead. ASHS continued to control the game in the quarter. Just before the horn sounded, Sam Crumbley went up for a two-handed slam dunk to give the Panthers a 16-6 lead.

Americus-Sumter power forward Darion Mitchell goes up for a layup. Mitchell scored two points against Cairo.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

ASHS continued to control the game in the second quarter as they maintained a 20-11 lead.

The Syrupmakers struggled to score as they were committing turnovers. Then with a little over three minutes left in the half, Lusane scored again to give the Panthers a 22-11 lead. The Panthers increased their lead when Jakobe McCuller nailed a three-pointer to put ASHS up by 14 with under two minutes left in the half. This was part of a 7-0 run by the Panthers late in the first half.

With 46 seconds left, the Panthers used a half-court trap and forced a turnover. Lusane broke to the basket and scored to give ASHS a 29-12 lead. Crumbley then added to the lead in the closing seconds. As the horn sounded, McCuller was fouled at half-court. McCuller made two of the three free throws to give the Panthers a 33-12 halftime advantage.

Americus-Sumter small forward Kanova Willoughby pushing the ball up the court. Willoughby scored four points against Cairo, including a slam dunk.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Lusane led the Panthers in the first half with 12 points and McCuller had seven first-half-points.

The Panthers came out on fire in the second half, Lusane scored the first two baskets of the game, the second on a slam dunk. ASHS went on a 7-0 run to start the first quarter, prompting a timeout by the Syrupmakers at the 5:12 mark of the third quarter.

The timeout didn’t help as Lusane hit a jumper to increase the Panthers’ lead to 42-13. At this point of the game, the Panthers were in total control. The Syrupmakers struggled to get anything going on offense. This was partly due to the defensive pressure of the Panthers.

Americus-Sumter small forward Michael Flemming rebounds the ball against Cairo. Flemming scored eight points in the win.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

The huge lead allowed Hoffpauir to put his reserves in the game for some valuable playing experience. With a little over two minutes left in the third quarter, Jakontist Gordon nailed a three-pointer. By the 1:24 mark, ASHS led 48-19. Gordon nailed another three-pointer in the closing seconds, then Flemming scored at the buzzer. The Panthers were rolling, leading 55-20.

Being that the Panthers’ lead was so large, the officials shortened the fourth quarter to six minutes. The remainder of the quarter was a dunk fest for the Panthers. Lusane and Kanova Willoughby both scored on dunks. The Panthers went on a 16-6 run in the fourth quarter to finish off the Syrupmakers 71-26.

Americus-Sumter guard Trae Brown with the ball against a Cairo defender. Brown scored eight points in the win, including two three-pointers.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

As far as the Region 1-AAAA standings are concerned, the Panthers are still in second place at 8-3. They trail Carver (Columbus), who is in first place at 12-1. However, Dougherty is in third place at 8-4. The Panthers will try for their third win in a row and keep pace with Carver (Columbus) when they travel to Columbus, GA to take on the Hawks of Hardaway (12-8, 6-6) on Friday, January 25. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.