Panthers lose heart breaker at Dodge County on McClendon’s game-winning prayer

Published 10:04 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2023

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From Staff Reports


EASTMAN, GA – The Sumter County Varsity Boys’ Basketball Team (SCHS) was 1.3 seconds away from ‘getting out of Dodge” with a hard-earned victory over the Dodge County Indians, as they had a 47-46 lead. However, with 1.3 seconds left, DC freshman point guard Jaedon McClendon threw up a three-point prayer that was answered in the affirmative and it resulted in a heartbreaking 49-47 loss for the Panthers on Tuesday, February 7 at Dodge County High School.

The loss gives SCHS an overall record of 15-7 on the season and they are currently half a game behind DC in second place in the region standings at 9-1. DC, who has one more region game against Berrien, is currently in first place in the region standings at 10-1 and 17-3 overall. The Panthers have two more regions games to finish the regular season and both of them are at home. They will host Worth County on Friday, February 3 at 7:30 p.m. and will then finish the regular season by hosting Jeff Davis for Senior Night on Saturday, February 4, at 7:30 p.m.

Both seniors Cameron Evans and Brandon Pope each scored in double figures for the Panthers. Evans led SCHS in scoring with 20 points and Pope poured in 16 in the losing cause.

The Panthers got off to a slow start and fell behind the Indians 10-0. However, after SCHS Head Coach Johnny Genwright called a timeout, SCHS regrouped and scored four unanswered points to cut the DC lead to six. However, the Indians responded with a 6-0 and took a 16-4 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Fortunately for the Panthers, they were able to pick up their defensive pressure in the second quarter and went on a 7-0 run, cutting their deficit to 16-11 with 4:30 to go before halftime. Over the remaining four and a half minutes, SCHS outscored the Indians 12-7 and tied the game at 23-23 at the buzzer on a three-pointer from Pope.

It was a back-and-forth affair in the third quarter, but the Panthers had a 40-37 lead with eight more minutes to play. Throughout the fourth quarter, both teams traded baskets, but the Panthers had a 47-46 lead with 28.5 seconds to play and they had the ball. During that possession, SCHS senior guard Kavon Lewis missed a shot and got his own rebound, but he was called for traveling and the ball went over to the Indians with 14.8 seconds to go. At that point, Genwright called a timeout to set up his team’s defense.

Out of the timeout, the Indians were trying to inbound the basketball, but called a timeout to avoid a five second violation. Out of the timeout, Jaedon McClendon got the ball with 1.3 seconds left and heaved a shot that went in at the buzzer to give DC a dramatic 49-47 victory.

Will Jordan led the Indians in scoring with 11 points and both McClendon and Keagan Williams each chipped in eight points for DC in the winning cause.

The Panthers (15-7, 9-1 Region 1-AA) will close out their regular season with two home games on Friday and Saturday. They will host Worth County on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and will honor their 10 seniors on Senior Night when they host Jeff Davis in the regular season finale on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.