After a slow start, Lady Panthers come alive in win over Westwood

Published 8:01 pm Monday, December 20, 2021

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ALBANY – After getting off to a sluggish start, the Sumter County Lady Panthers (SCHS) woke up and found their footing against the Westwood Lady Wildcats. SCHS jumped out to a 16-9 lead early, and though the Lady Wildcats made it close at halftime and late in the fourth quarter, the Lady Panthers were able to withstand those runs from Westwood and went on to defeat the Lady Wildcats 54-43 in their first game of the Deerfield-Windsor Christmas Classic on Monday, December 20, at the Deerfield Windsor School in Albany.

With the win, the Lady Panthers improve to 6-4 overall and they handed Westwood its first loss of the season (5-1).

SCHS freshman forward Madison Shelton and senior center Trinity Jackson each led the Lady Panthers in scoring with 13 points and junior point guard Aviyonna Clemons scored 10 points in the winning cause.

Sumter County freshman forward Madison Shelton (35) as at the free throw line for the Lady Panthers against Westwood. Both Shelton and SCHS senior center Trinity Jackson led the Lady Panthers in scoring with 13 points.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Both teams got off to a very sluggish start and that was reflected on the scoreboard, as neither team could break the 0-0 deadlock until the Lady Wildcats’ Amira Waters-Smith scored with a little over four minutes to play in the first quarter. The Lady Panthers finally got on the scoreboard when Jackson scored on the inside. From that point until the 5:00 mark of the second quarter, the Lady Panthers woke up and went on a 16-8 run to take an 18-10 lead. Over the final five minutes of the first half, SCHS was able to build its lead to as much as 14 points by playing solid defense, creating turnovers and scoring baskets in transition. Westwood was able to cut its deficit to 27-17 on a basket by Sarah Sheffield, but the Lady Wildcats would get no closer in the first half and SCHS maintained a 27-17 lead at halftime.

Shelton led the Lady Panthers in the first half with eight points, while Waters-Smith led Westwood with 11 first half points.

Sumter County senior point guard Tiffani Goodman (3) pushes the ball up the court for the Lady Panthers. Goodman scored eight points in the win over the Lady Wildcats.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

In the third quarter, the tide began to turn in favor of Westwood. The Lady Wildcats turned up their defensive pressure and forced SCHS into committing turnovers. As a result, the Lady Wildcats went on an 8-4 run, cutting their deficit to 31-25. Jackson scored on the inside with 2:26 remaining in the third to stop the run. Over the final two minutes of the quarter, the Lady Panthers began to restore order and took a 40-27 lead with one quarter to play.

Early in the fourth quarter, Shelton was able to give the Lady Panthers a 44-27 lead by sinking two foul shots and scoring a basket on the inside. However, the Lady Wildcats responded with a 9-2 run that was capped off by a three-pointer from Monique Judge. This prompted SCHS Head Coach Sherri Harris to call a timeout with 4:18 remaining.

With 1:50 to go, SCHS had a 52-40 lead until Hannah Glass brought Westwood to within nine with a three-pointer. However, that would be as close as the Lady Wildcats would get, as the Lady Panthers went on to win by the score of 54-43.

Judge led Westwood (5-1) with 17 points and Waters-Smith scored 15 in the losing cause.

The Lady Panthers’ next game in the Deerfield-Windsor Christmas Classic will be on Tuesday at 6 p.m. against the host school, the Deerfield-Windsor Lady Knights.