Lady Raiders fall to Tiftarea at home on Senior Night

Published 11:25 am Monday, January 29, 2024

AMERICUS – The Southland Academy Lady Raiders (SAR) were hoping to give their three seniors, Mary Beth Easterlin, Landry Hart and Sophia Blankenship, a win on Senior Night at Southland Academy. Unfortunately for SAR, they were not able to take advantage of their opportunities down the stretch and would go on to lose to Tiftarea Academy (TA) by the score of 39-32.

“It’s been a tough week, a lot of games. It’s been a really crazy week,” SAR Head Coach Chip Champion said. “The kids are battling hard. We had some opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of them. That’s part of the growing and learning process. We keep getting better and better and we’re going to get there. Hopefully, it’s soon.”

Mary Beth Easterlin led the Lady Raiders in scoring with 17 points. Both Gracie Burrell and Adler Rae Owens chipped in four points, Landry Hart had three and M.A. Yeiser scored two to round out the SAR scoring.

The Lady Raiders jumped out to a 9-5 lead in the first quarter before TA called a timeout with 2:07 left to go in the quarter. After the timeout, however, the Lady Panthers scored five unanswered points to take a 10-9 lead by the quarter’s end.

The Lady Panthers scored six unanswered points early in the second quarter, forcing Champion to call a timeout. Out of the timeout, the Lady Raiders tried to run their offense against the half court trap of TA, but were committing turnovers.

In spite of that, SAR stayed within striking distance and pulled to within three points at 20-17 on a made free throw by Easterlin. However, in the waning seconds of the first half, Isabel Fernandez drilled a three-pointer to give the Lady Panthers a 23-17 lead at the half.

Southland Academy point guard Adler Rae Owens directs the offense for the Lady Raiders.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

During the first few minutes of the third quarter, the Lady Raiders went on a 6-2 run that was capped off with a basket by Easterlin. Shortly thereafter, Easterlin tied the game at 26-26 on a three-pointer from the corner. Over the final minutes of the quarter, both teams traded baskets and the score was tied at 28-28 with one more quarter to play.

Over the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, both teams were struggling offensively and both teams were committing turnovers, but Gracie Burrell was able to give the Lady Raiders a 32-28 lead on a jump shot. However, the Lady Panthers responded by going on a 5-0 run and taking a 33-32 lead before timeout was called with 2:44 left in the game.

Out of the timeout, neither team could score over the next minute or so and Champion decided to call a timeout with 1:33 to play.

Out of that timeout, the Lady Panthers were able to score and took a 35-32 lead, prompting another timeout with 37.2 seconds left.

The Lady Panthers got two more points from Amelia Mercer, who was fouled in the act of shooting and made both free throws. Unfortunately for the Lady Raiders, they were unable to make plays down the stretch and went on to lose to TA by the score of 39-32.

Mercer led the Lady Panthers in scoring with 18 points.

The Lady Raiders will try to end their four-game losing streak when they travel over to Dawson to take on Terrell Academy on Tuesday. Tip off is scheduled for 6:15 p.m.