Big early lead propels Panthers to win over Shaw

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, January 30, 2019

AMERICUS – The Americus-Sumter Panthers (19-3, 11-3) jumped out to a 19-9 lead in the first quarter and took control of the game from there on their way to a 73-53 Region 1-AAAA victory over the Raiders of Shaw High School (SHS) on Wednesday, January 30, at Americus-Sumter High School.

The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday, January 29. However, due to bad weather and issues involving “black ice” on the roads, the game was postponed a day later.

The Panthers, as they have done all season, used their tenacious defense to force the Raiders into committing turnovers. They turned those turnovers into points and were able to score in transition, which is how they like to play.

“That’s the key for us. If we can play solid defense and get some easy baskets, it makes the game a whole lot easier for us,” ASHS head coach Michael Hoffpauir said. “Lately, we’ve been working on that. We’ve been working on our transition offense and our secondary offense. It has been paying off for us.”

Americus-Sumter junior point guard A’jarrien Banks runs the offense for the Panthers.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

ASHS had four players in double-figures. Senior forward Joshua Lusane and senior shooting guard Jakobe McCuller both led the Panthers with 13 points each. Junior guard Quevoluia Willoughby scored 11 points on the night and senior small forward Sam Crumbley scored 10.

The Raiders had two players in double-figures. Dylan Harris led SHS with 12 points and Greg Grant scored 10. With the loss, SHS falls to 14-10 overall and 7-8 in Region 1-AAAA play.

The Panthers jumped out to a 5-0 lead to start the game. However, the Raiders went on a 5-2 run of their own. ASHS responded by going on a 12-4 run to close out the first quarter. Part of that run included two three-pointers by McCuller. By the start of the second quarter, the Panthers led SHS 19-9.

Both teams traded baskets for the first two minutes of the second quarter. Lusane then scored two-straight baskets, the second one being a slam dunk. At that point, ASHS led 27-18. Harris hit a three-pointer to cut the Panthers’ lead to nine.  Both teams traded baskets before McCuller hit his third three-pointer of the game to give the Panthers a 32-20 lead. With under a minute to play, McCuller got a steal and scored to push the lead to 34-21 ASHS. The Panthers were able to force some turnovers and scored two more baskets to give themselves a 38-21 halftime lead.

ASHS junior small forward Wallace Bradley pushing the ball up the court. Bradley scored two points in the Panthers’ win.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

McCuller scored all of his 13 points in the first half. Lusane had eight first-half points and Quevoluia Willoughby scored six points in the first half. Both came on three-pointers.

For SHS, they were led in first-half scoring by D.J. Gladen with six points.

The Raiders scored five unanswered points to start the second half until Willoughby hit a three-pointer for the Panthers. With 3:36 to go in the third quarter, Lusane gave a behind-the-back pass to Willoughby, who scored to give the Panthers a 45-30 lead. This prompted a timeout from SHS head coach Terry White.

Out of the timeout, the Panthers continued to push. Michael Flemming scored to give ASHS a 49-32 lead.

ASHS senior forward Sam Crumbley goes up for a layup.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

The Panthers continued to play tenacious defense for the rest of the game, disrupting the offensive rhythm of the Raiders. By the end of the third quarter, ASHS led 55-39.

The Panthers scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter. Timeout was called with 4:33 left. At that point, however, the Panthers were in total control, leading 62-39. They went on to win 73-53.

ASHS senior forward Joshua Lusane drives to the basket. Lusane, along with Jakobe McCuller, both led the Panthers in scoring with 13 points each.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Up next for the Panthers is Senior Night at ASHS on Friday, February 1. The Panthers will be honoring nine seniors: Joshua Lusane, Sam Crumbley, David Sumlin, Jakobe McCuller, Tylan Smith, Bryzstin Peavy, Michael Flemming, Tydrick Lasiter and Joshua Moore. The Panthers will be taking on the Hawks of Hardaway (12-9, 6-7). Tip-off for that game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Their last regular season game will be Saturday, February 2, at Westover. Tip-off for that game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The Region 1-AAAA Tournament will begin the following week. Date, location and time are to be determined.