Panthers fall to Tift County in overtime

Published 9:53 am Monday, January 29, 2024

AMERICUS – It was a low-scoring defensive struggle that couldn’t be decided in regulation, but like all games that go down to the wire, free throw shooting made the difference. Unfortunately for Sumter County (SCHS), they weren’t able to hit the majority of their free throws and it would prove costly, as they would fall to the Tift County Blue Devils by the score of 44-43 on Saturday at the Panther Pit.

For the game, SCHS made eight of 20 free throws (40 percent), while the Blue Devils made 10 of 16 free throws (63 percent).

“My guys played hard. They kept fighting and fighting,” SCHS Head Coach Johnny Genwright said. “We said we’ve got to have free throws. We had a chance to win and we missed free throws. We’ve got to make free throws down the stretch.” Genwright also talked about the fact that his team couldn’t get the necessary offensive rebounds down the stretch.

LeBron Brown led the Panthers in scoring with 14 points, Anthony Tyson had eight points and Javin Lewis chipped in seven in the losing cause.

Sumter County senior point guard Javin Lewis looks to penetrate the TC defense. Lewis scored seven points in the loss to the Blue Devils.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

The Panthers jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the first quarter and that run was capped off by a three-pointer from LeBron Brown. However, the Blue Devils responded by going on a 5-0 run of their own to tie the game at 7-7 by the quarter’s end.

It was a low-scoring affair during the first several minutes of the second quarter, as both teams were in a tight defensive struggle, but the Blue Devils took a 14-10 lead when Te’Shawn Bryant drilled a three-pointer and was fouled. Bryant made the foul shot to complete the four-point play.

With the exception of Bryant’s four-point play, neither team could get on track offensively for most of the second quarter, but the Panthers were able to break a lengthy scoring drought when Ishmel Jones scored on a layup. That was the beginning of a 7-5 run by the Panthers and by halftime, the score was tied at 19-19.

Sumter County freshman forward Austin Davis goes up to shoot.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

The early part of the third quarter was much like the first half, as both teams were locked in a low-scoring defensive struggle. However, the Panthers were able to take a 25-22 on a layup by Javin Lewis with a little more than three minutes left in the third quarter. Over the next few minutes, neither team could score a lot of points, but the Panthers would go into the fourth quarter with a 28-26 lead.

Both teams picked up the scoring in the early minutes of the fourth quarter, but the Panthers took a 33-32 lead on a three-pointer by Brown. As the fourth quarter continued, the Panthers continued to be patient on offense and work for the good shot. They also kept up their intensity on the defensive end as well.

However, Tristan Boone would cap off a 4-0 run by the Blue Devils with a basket and it prompted Genwright to call a timeout with 2:43 to go in the game.

Out of the timeout, Anthony Tyson was able to draw a foul and go to the foul line, but he could only make one foul shot. However, Braylon Terry was able to tie the game at 36-36 on a layup with 45.7 seconds left.

After Genwright called another timeout with 38.6 seconds left, TC had the ball, but elected to call a timeout with 20.3 seconds left. Out of the timeout, the Panthers were able to force a five second violation and got the ball with 17.3 seconds left. They ran the clock down to 8.1 seconds to go before Genwright called another timeout. Out of that timeout, they gave the ball to Brown, who hoisted up a three-pointer that fell short, sending the game into overtime tied at 36-36.

Early in the overtime period, Tyson would get fouled and would make one foul shot, but Bryant responded with a three-pointer to give the Blue Devils a 39-37 lead. Tyson responded for the Panthers by scoring and getting fouled and would make the foul shot, cutting the deficit to 41-40. Shortly thereafter, the Panthers forced a turnover and took a 42-41 lead on a basket by JaCory Wright, prompting TC to call a timeout with 1:26 to go in overtime.

Out of the timeout, the Blue Devils were whistled for a foul and Javin Lewis made one of two foul shots for the Panthers to give them a 43-41 lead. Malachi Evans would later get fouled and would make one of two foul shots for TC. On the Panthers’ next possession, Lewis would get fouled, but would miss both foul shots. This gave the Blue Devils the opportunity to take the lead and they did so when Bryant was fouled and made both foul shots.

With nine seconds remaining, Genwright called a timeout to set up a play. After looking at TC’s defense, Genwright called another timeout to make an adjustment. Out of that timeout, however, the Panthers turned it over and lost the game by the score of 44-43.

Fred White led the Blue Devils in scoring with 14 points and Shawn Bryant scored 12 in the winning cause.

The Panthers (6-14, 3-4 Region 1-AA) will try to rebound from this setback when they step back into region play and host Berrien on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.