Panthers’ season comes to an end with loss to Southwest Macon

Published 10:05 am Monday, February 26, 2024

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AMERICUS –The Sumter County Panthers (SCHS) were hoping to continue their magical run through the playoffs with a home win over Southwest Macon (SWM). Unfortunately for the Panthers, turnovers and missed free throws, in addition to second chance points by the Patriots, led to a 46-40 loss at home to SWM in the second round of the GHSA Class AA state playoffs.

“I got to give it to my guys. They played hard. They fought. They fought all the way through,” SCHS Head Coach Johnny Genwright said. “Got to give credit to Southwest Macon. They’re a tough team. They came out. They played hard. Both teams played hard. We didn’t give up. They made a couple of baskets there at the end. For the season, I’m proud of my guys. A lot of people didn’t expect us to be here, but they kept fighting. They kept working. We ended up winning the region and we made it this far. I’m proud of the my guys just for playing hard.”

Anthony Tyson led the Panthers in scoring with 12 points and Michael Terry poured in 10.

The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair between both teams, but by the quarter’s end, the Patriots had a 9-5 lead.

With a little more than six minutes to go in the second quarter, the Panthers scored five unanswered points and capped off that run with a three-pointer from LeBron Brown. Over the next minute or so, the Panthers went on an 8-2 run and took a 17-11 lead. They were able to do this because of their defensive effort and the fact that the Patriots were going cold from the field. SWM was able to score four unanswered points late in the first half, but Michael Terry was able to score a layup with four seconds left to give the Panthers a 19-15 lead at halftime.

Sumter County senior guard Javin Lewis is seen here competing for the Panthers against Southwest Macon.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

However, though they tried to be patient on offense early in the third quarter, the Panthers hit a dry spell offensively and it allowed the Patriots to go on a 6-0 run to take a 21-19 lead. Fortunately for SCHS, Michael Terry scored to tie the game at 21-21.

Over the next few minutes, both teams traded baskets, but the Patriots took a 28-26 lead on a basket by CJ Howard. Then in the waning seconds of the third quarter, Chase Dupree drilled a three-pointer to give SWM a 31-28 lead. Fortunately for the Panthers, Jacorey Wright scored to bring the Panthers to within one at 31-30 with one more quarter to play.

With 5:50 to go in the game, Dupree struck again as he scored, was fouled and made the free throw to give SWM a 34-30 lead. Shortly thereafter, the Panthers turned the ball over and the Patriots scored again before Genwright called a timeout with 5:23 to play.

Out of the timeout, the Panthers were able to go on a 4-1 run and capped it off with a layup from Michael Terry, prompting a timeout by SWM with 4:20 to play. Out of the timeout, however, Dupree struck again with a three-pointer, giving the Patriots a 40-34 lead. Over the next minute or so, both teams would trade baskets, but the Patriots would extend their lead to 44-37 with two made free throws by Howard with about a minute to play.

With 31.4 seconds to play, Genwright called a timeout to settle his team down. Out of the timeout, Austin Davis made a jumper to cut the SWM lead to 44-39, prompting another timeout by SCHS. Out of that timeout, the Panthers tried to get a steal and ended up fouling Kyle Jefferson. Jefferson made one of two foul shots to give the Patriots a five-point lead.

The Panthers made a last ditch effort to try and make a comeback, but would fall short, as the Patriots would go on to win 46-40.

SCHS concludes its season with a record of 13-17, while the Patriots improve to 19-8.

Both Dupree and Jefferson led the Patriots in scoring with 14 points.

SWM advances to the quarterfinals where they will take on Columbia.