The Long County Blue Tide basketball teams hosted region rival Liberty County on Tuesday, January 14 in a pair of key region matchups. Fans filled the Long County arena as the teams squared off, but it was the Panthers that went home happy with two big wins.
The Lady Tide and Lady Panthers tipped things off and it was a tight battle throughout most of the game. Tide sophomore CiCi Burke hit a big three point shot to lead things off for her team. Long County held the Lady Panthers scoreless for nearly the first four minutes of the game before they got on the board thanks to a free throw.
The Lady Tide led 6-1 with three minutes to go in the first, but the Lady Panthers kicked into a different gear as they kept them off the board for the rest of the period. Re’Aja DePriest hit a big three point shot to tie the game at six going into the second quarter.
The second quarter was again another back and forth affair with a little more scoring this time. Tide sophomore Ke Osha McKeever stepped up in a big way as she scored six points in the period, going 2-3 from the free throw stripe. Panther Camauri Jenkins led her team in the period, hitting a big three pointer and scoring six points of her own as Liberty County led 18-17 at the half.
Much like the first half, the third quarter was tight for both teams. The Tide took a 29-23 lead thanks to an 8-0 run, but the Panthers answered with a 7-1 run of their own to tie the game at 30 going into the final period. Tide senior Breyahn Maddox had a going showing, pulling down five of her 11 rebounds and scoring five of her 10 points in the third. Liberty’s Destiny Grider played a big part in the Panthers’ run in the third, scoring five points as well.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Tide led 35-34 and it looked as if they would get their first region win of the year. However, the Panthers went on a 17-0 run with three minutes left to go up 51-35. Long County was never able to catch up as they fell to 3-16 and 0-5 in the region with a 51-38 loss. The Lady Panthers move to 5-10 and 2-3 in the region. Maddox notched a double-double for Long County, scoring 10 points and recording 11 rebounds. McKeever had the best game of her young career, scoring eight points and recording four steals. Jenkins scored 13 points and Grider scored 12 for Liberty, who was 6-13 from three-point range.
The Liberty County boys came out hot against the Tide as they opened up a 15-2 lead thanks to a 12-0 run. LD Mack led the way with six points and a huge dunk while they also hit two three point shots. The Tide, however, was 0-6 from three point range and 0-8 at the free throw line in the first quarter.
The Panthers continued their success in the second quarter as Corey Love scored seven points, including a big three point shot. The Tide found a little more success from the charity stripe, especially as Adison Russell hit three of his four shots. He led the Tide with seven points in the quarter, but the Tide were still down 30-16 at the half.
Liberty County seemed to go for the throat in the third quarter as they hit almost everything. Love hit two big three point shots as they eventually built a 41-23 lead before the Tide scored again.
The Panthers were up by as much as 25 points in the third before Long County finally turned it own. In the final three minutes of the quarter, down 49-24, the Tide went on a 15-0 run. Junior Tostadas Pouncey hit a big three point shot at the buzzer to make the score 49-39. Pouncey had 10 points in the quarter as did sophomore Cameryn Johnson.
The Tide cut the Panthers’ lead down to eight points with just over seven minutes to go in the game, but Liberty County never surrendered their lead. Mack took over for the Panthers, scoring seven points as they controlled the clock and kept the Tide offense at bay. The Panthers won by a final score of 66-55.
With the loss, their first at home and first in the region of the year, the Tide fall to 15-4 and 4-1 in the region. The Panthers advance to 6-10 and 3-2 in the region, gaining some ground on Long County in the race for the Region 2-AAA regular season crown.
The Panthers will next travel to Tattnall County on Friday, January 17 while the Tide will travel to Brantley on Friday as well.