Panthers earn come-from-behind victory over Dougherty
ALBANY, GA – With 1:23 left in the fourth quarter, the Americus-Sumter boys’ basketball team (ASHS) trailed Dougherty 56-50. However, the Panthers used their pressure defense to create a series of turnovers by the Trojans down the stretch. As a result, ASHS scored 10 unanswered points, including a crucial three-pointer by JaKontist Gordon, to pull out a come-from-behind 60-56 win over DCHS on Tuesday, November 26, at Dougherty Comprehensive High School (DCHS).
It was the first Region 1-AAAA victory for the Panthers this season. They are now 2-0 overall and 1-0 in Region 1-AAAA play.
“That’s what we worked on: implementing defense,” ASHS head coach Johnny Genwright said. “I told my guys that we really hadn’t been working on offense much because we need to focus on defense. That’s our motto this year. It’s defense. Some guys stepped up and made big shots. In the third quarter, we didn’t score for a long period, so we had to rely on our defense.”
ASHS guard Trae Brown led the Panthers in scoring with 20 points and Gordon scored 10, including the key three-pointer late in the game. Jordan Wiley scored nine points and Melton McCoy chipped in eight in the winning cause.
The first half of the game was a back-and-forth affair between both teams. Late in the half, the Trojans had a 24-23 lead until Gordon hit a three-pointer to give the Panthers the lead. That began a 7-0 run for ASHS and they led at halftime 30-24.
The Panthers began the second half by going on a 6-2 run to take a 10-point lead. However, DCHS forward Will Riggins scored nine unanswered points, while the Panthers went through a scoring drought. The Trojans got six more unanswered points from Mikel Jones to increase their lead to 41-36. DCHS had gone on a 15-0 run to take a five-point lead.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Trojans still maintained a 47-40 lead and the Panthers were still struggling to score. With 3:05 to go in the game, DCHS had a 53-45 lead. After the Trojans scored to increase their lead to 10, Brown knocked down a three pointer near the 2:40 mark. Both teams traded baskets over the next minute and the Trojans led 56-50 with 1:23 to go.
However, that is when the momentum turned in favor of the Panthers. Gordon nailed the all-important three-pointer to get things rolling. ASHS then forced a turnover and got a basket from Wallace Bradley to bring them to within one at 56-55.
The Panthers continued to turn up their defensive pressure and forced DCHS guard Rod Jones into committing an offensive foul when he threw his elbow into an ASHS defender.
Down the stretch, Bradley made some crucial free throws that would lead to the Panthers taking the lead and leaving Albany with a hard-fought 60-56 victory.
One other crucial moment late in the game came when DCHS head coach Bakari Bryant was whistled for a technical foul, which allowed the Panthers to get the ball with just a few seconds left.
DCHS (0-2, 0-1) had three players in double figures. Mikel Jones led the Trojans in scoring with 16 points, including four three-pointers. Riggins scored 13 points and Rod Jones chipped in 10.
Up next for the Panthers is a road trip to Bainbridge, GA to take on the Bearcats of Bainbridge on Friday, November 29. Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. They will then turn around and host Lee County in a rematch of last weekend’s classic on Saturday, November 30. Tip off for that game is also scheduled for 7:30 p.m.