Lady Panthers fall to Tift County in hard-fought contest

Published 10:33 am Monday, January 29, 2024

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AMERICUS – The Sumter County Lady Panthers (SCHS) came into Saturday night’s contest against Tift County (TC) hoping to topple a strong Lady Blue Devils club. Unfortunately, SCHS was unable to execute when they needed to and ended up losing to the Lady Blue Devils by the score of 58-52 at the Panther Pit.

“We had a couple of bad possessions where we just came down and shot the ball too fast,” SCHS Head Coach Sherri Harris said. “We didn’t execute in our half court offense. That’s a pretty good team. They’re a 6A team and they’re in the top five in the state. They will go far in the state playoffs. I don’t have a problem when we lose to a good team. We just didn’t execute when we needed to.”

Jesstynie Scott led the Lady panthers in scoring with 23 points and Madison Shelton scored nine points for SCHS in the losing cause.

The Lady Panthers jumped out to a 7-3 lead to start the game thanks to two fast break baskets and a three-pointer by Scott. However, the Lady Blue Devils quickly responded with a 6-0 run of their own to tie the game at 9-9.

Over the remaining minutes of the first quarter, both teams were struggling to score and by the end of the quarter, the score was tied at 11-11.

Both teams continued to struggle offensively early in the second quarter, but in the latter part of the quarter, TC would go on an 8-3 run. During this period of the game, the Lady Panthers were struggling to hit shots and they were committing turnovers. In spite of that, they only trailed the Lady Blue Devils 23-22 at the half.

Being that it was Sumter County Rec Night, during halftime, all of the players participating in the Sumter County recreation basketball program were recognized.

Sumter County freshman guard Jaliyah Tatum (#24) looks to pass. Tatum scored two points in the loss to TC.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Over the first few minutes of the third quarter, TC went on a 13-4 before Madison Shelton scored to put SCHS within six points at 34-28. However, shortly thereafter, Caitlyn Burgess responded with a three-pointer for TC and they grabbed a 37-28 lead.

Over the waning minutes of the third quarter, both teams traded baskets, but Shelton would electrify the crowd with a three-pointer at the buzzer, bringing the Lady Panthers to within seven at 43-36.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Lady Panthers went on a 5-3 run and cut their deficit to 46-43 before TC called timeout with 6:35 to go. The momentum had clearly shifted in the favor of the Lady Panthers.

With 4:32 to go in the game, Lauren Harris brought SCHS to within two at 48-46 when she scored, was fouled and made the free throw. However, TC responded with a 5-0 run that was capped off by a three-pointer by Burgess. This swung momentum back towards the Lady Blue Devils, as Jalaya Miller would score a fast break basket to give TC a 55-46 lead with 2:37 to go in the game.

Over the remaining two and a half minutes, the Lady Panthers tried to make a run. With 9.2 seconds left, Scott drilled a three-pointer to bring the Lady Panthers to within four at 56-52. Unfortunately for SCHS, that would be as close as they would get, as the Lady Blue Devils would go on to win by the score of 58-52.

Jimmya Cushion led the Lady Blue Devils in scoring with 17 points.

The Lady Panthers (12-7, 6-1 Region 1-AA) will step back into region play on Tuesday when they host Berrien at 6 p.m.