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Ken’s Column: No better time than now to be a Panther

Whether you are an Americus High graduate, a Sumter County High graduate, or even if you went to neither school, there is no better time than the present to be an Americus-Sumter Panther.

Both of the Americus-Sumter High School (ASHS) boys and girls basketball teams are experiencing historic seasons and both have a great chance to win state championships. The boys’ team is 28-0, having defeated Thomson in the first round of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class AAAA State Playoffs. Should they run the table by winning four more games in the tournament (Five tournament wins gets you the state title), the Panthers will not only be the first boys’ high school basketball team from Sumter County to win a state championship since 1983 (Southland Academy won a GISA boys state championship back then), they will also be one of the few teams in the state of Georgia, let alone the country, to win a state championship while staying undefeated. ASHS came oh so close a year ago to winning that coveted state title, but lost to Carver (Columbus) in the state finals.

On the other hand, the ASHS girls’ team is also having an historic season. The Lady Panthers (25-2) are coming off a 49-32 victory over Burke County in the first round of the state tournament this past weekend. They are trying to win the school’s first state championship in girls’ basketball since 2016, when the Lady Panthers, led by former ASHS star and current University of Arkansas guard A’Tyanna Gaulden, won the state championship.

Like it or not, it is a done deal that the new high school to be built across the street from South Georgia Tech will be called Sumter County High School. Whatever our positions were on that issue (I had my own personal opinion), we need to move on and be untied as a county. There is no better time to do that than the present. As far as I know, no high school girls and boys basketball team in the history of Sumter County has ever won a state championship in boys and girls’ basketball in the same season and both ASHS teams are four wins away from doing just that. There are very few programs in the state of Georgia, let alone the country, whose boys and girls’ basketball teams win state championships in the same year. The Carver (Columbus) boys and girls teams achieved that feat last year and Buford High School was able to do it in 2017.

What a fantastic thing it would be to have both the ASHS boys and girls teams win their respective state championships this year. Let’s hope and pray that it happens. Again, whether you are a graduate of Americus High, a graduate of the old Sumter County High School, a recent grad of Americus-Sumter or none of the above (like me), you can and should be a Panther and get behind these two teams. There’s no better time than the present to do just that. That’s my opinion and I welcome yours.

 

Ken Gustafson is the Sports Editor for the Americus Times-Recorder. To contact him, call 229-924-2751. To email him, do so at Ken.gustafson@americustimesrecorder.com