Lady Panthers get by Thomson in first round of state playoffs

Published 1:45 pm Thursday, February 22, 2024

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AMERICUS – At the end of the third quarter, the Sumter County Lady Panthers (SCHS) had a 35-28 lead, but the Thomson Lady Bulldogs went on an 8-2 run and cut the SCHS lead to one at 37-36, forcing a timeout by SCHS Head Coach Sherri Harris. Out of the timeout, however, the Lady Panthers righted the ship, as D’Eria Clark drilled a three-pointer and Jesstynie Scott scored a basket to give the Lady Panthers a 42-36 lead. From that point on, SCHS remained focused and was able to close out the game with a 51-41 victory over the Lady Bulldogs in the first round of the GHSA Class AA State Playoffs Wednesday night at the Panther Pit.

“I thought we played some very good team defense against a very good team,” Harris said. “They knocked down some baskets early on. We were kind of stagnated. We turned the ball over. I put three guards in there and we didn’t do a good job of handling the ball. We were kind of careless with it, throwing soft passes across the lane. Once we got a timeout, we got refocused. We always say ‘let’s finish.’ We always talk about the end of practice that it’s time to go home. You knock your free throws down. You gotta get two in a row so we can go home. We stepped up there and knocked two down and that was the difference. We got going right after that.”

Jesstynie Scott led the Lady Panthers in scoring with 22 points, D’Eria Clark had 10 and Lauren Harris chipped in nine points in the winning cause.

Throughout the first quarter, it was a back-and-forth affair between both teams, but Scott was able to give the Lady Panthers a 10-7 lead when she scored off the dribble drive. Both teams traded baskets over the remaining minutes and by the end of the first quarter, the Lady Panthers had a 12-11 lead. Clark quickly gave SCHS a 15-11 lead on a three-pointer to start the second quarter and it sparked a 5-0 run by the Lady Panthers. Over the next minute or so, both teams traded baskets, but as the second quarter went on, both teams went through a cold spell offensively, including struggling from the foul line. In spite of their struggles offensively, the Lady Panthers were solid on the defensive end and forced a turnover, which resulted in a layup for Tamia Aldridge, giving the Lady Panthers a 22-17 lead. By halftime, SCHS had a 23-17 lead.

Scott quickly gave SCHS a 26-17 lead on a three-pointer to start the third quarter, but over the next few minutes, the Lady Panthers ran into another dry spell offensively before Scott hit another three-pointer to give SCHS a 29-19 lead. Shortly thereafter, Lauren Harris scored on a layup and the Lady Panthers had a 31-19 lead before timeout was called.

Out of the timeout, both teams traded baskets, but the Lady Bulldogs were able to cut their deficit to five at 33-28 before Scott hit a short jumper at the buzzer to end the third quarter.

Sumter County sophomore guard Kamiyah Barron scored two points in the Lady Panthers’ win.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Early in the fourth quarter, the Lady Bulldogs used full-court pressure to create turnovers and went on an 8-2 run, cutting the Lady Panthers’ lead to 37-36 before Harris called a timeout with 5:20 to go in the game. Out of the timeout, however, Clark came through with a three-pointer, giving the Lady Panthers a 40-36 lead. This sparked another 5-0 run by SCHS that was capped off with another basket by Scott. Shortly thereafter, Scott would score again, electrifying the crowd and forcing the Lady Bulldogs to call a timeout.

Out of the timeout, the Lady Panthers were able to play with poise down the stretch and would go on to a 51-41 victory.

Thomson finishes the season with a record of 22-5. Jada Kendrick led the Lady Bulldogs in scoring with 13 points.

The Lady Panthers (20-8) will travel to Macon on Friday to take on Central (Macon) in the second round of the GHSA Class AA State Playoffs. Tip off is scheduled for 6 p.m.