After loss at Upson-Lee, Panthers rebound with win over Peach County
AMERICUS – The Americus-Sumter Panthers (ASHS) had their six-game winning streak snapped by Upson-Lee (ULHS) in a 60-55 Region 2-AAA loss in Thomaston on Friday, January 23. Fortunately for the Panthers, they didn’t have long to dwell on the loss and used it as motivation against Peach County (PCHS) the very next day in the Panther Den. Thanks to a 10-0 run by ASHS in the first quarter and a 9-1 run in the fourth, ASHS (10-3, 8-1 Region 2-AAA) was able to get back on the winning track by securing a 72-61 Region 2-AAA victory over the PCHS Trojans.
Three players scored in double figures for ASHS. Keldrick Flemming led the Panthers in scoring with 19 points and Jordan Wiley poured in 15. Brandon Pope was also in double figures with 11 points and Darion Mitchell very nearly reached double figures, as he scored nine points.
To sum it up, it was a game of spurts and runs. ASHS won this game by using its high-pressure defense to create its offense, which is what the Panthers have normally been able to do for the last few years. They also used their aggressiveness on both the offensive and defensive boards to earn second-chance points. Though PCHS was able to make a couple of runs of its own to make the game interesting, ASHS was up to the task of responding on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor to make sure that victory was secured.
ASHS sophomore guard Cameron Evans, who had six points on the night, opened the scoring with a three-pointer to give the Panthers an early 3-0 lead, but PCHS guard Temarius Mathis struck back with a three-pointer of his own to tie the game at 3-3.
However, from that point on, it was all ASHS. The Panthers went on a 10-0 run to take a 13-3 lead. They did this by using their tenacious, high-pressure defense to cause turnovers and they scored points off those turnovers. The Panthers’ half-court defense also made it difficult for the Trojans to score on offense. As a result, PCHS never led in this game.
Throughout much of the first half, PCHS tried to press the Panthers full court, but the ASHS guards were able to move the ball quickly and broke the Trojans’ press just about every time it was tried. By the 2:44 mark of the second quarter, the Panthers enjoyed a 36-21 lead before ASHS forward John Monts scored and was fouled on the play. He made the free throw to complete the three-point play, giving the Panthers a 39-21 lead. ASHS continued to be aggressive during the closing minutes of the first half and went into halftime leading 43-25.
However, the Trojans would not go quietly. They went on a 9-0 run to cut their deficit to 45-32 before ASHS Head Coach Johnny Genwright called a timeout with 5:41 remaining in the third quarter. Out of the timeout, PCHS got another basket, but Flemming was able to end the Panthers’ scoring drought by knocking down a jumper to give ASHS a 47-34 lead.
The momentum began to swing back in the favor of ASHS when Mitchell scored on the inside and was fouled. Mitchell made the foul shot to complete the three-point play and Jordan Wiley would later score on a goal tending call against the Trojans. This was all part of a 7-4 run by the Panthers, which gave them a 54-39 lead with a little more than one minute left in the third quarter.
However, PCHS responded with another run to get back in the game and outscored the Panthers 8-2 to cut its deficit below double digits at 56-47. It was the first time since the first quarter that the Trojans had trailed by less than 10 points.
However, as quick as the Trojans cut the ASHS lead down to nine, the Panthers were just as quick to push their lead back up to 16 points. They went on a 9-1
run that was capped off by a basket and a free throw from Mitchell. Then with 4:25 left in the game, Brandon Pope increased the ASHS lead to 67-49 with two made free throws. From that point on, the Trojans were not able to mount another serious run and the Panthers would go on to win 72-61.
The Trojans were led in scoring by Mathis’s 27 points, which led all scorers. Ladarius Johnson was also in double figures for PCHS with 13 points in the losing cause.
In the Panthers’ loss to ULHS the night before, it was a close game throughout and ASHS had a 42-40 lead after three quarters. However, the Knights came alive in the final quarter and outscored ASHS 20-13 to earn a come-from-behind 60-55 win.
Jordan Wiley led the Panthers with 17 points and Flemming had 13 in the loss to ULHS.
With the win over PCHS, the Panthers stay in first place by themselves in the Region 2-AAA standings at 8-1, while the Trojans drop to 9-5 overall and 5-4 in Region 2-AAA play.
The Panthers will try to keep their top spot in the region when they travel up to Jackson, GA on Tuesday, January 26, to take on the Red Devils of Jackson High School. Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
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