For the second time this season, the Bradwell Institute Tigers and Liberty County Panthers met on the basketball court for local bragging rights. And for the second time, the Lady Tigers pulled out a win in game 1, and the Panther boys won the second tilt.
Lady Tigers 44, Lady Panthers 36
The gym was so packed that folks were being turned away at the door as the heated rivalry between the girls’ teams took center stage. With several lead changes and no more than two or three points separating the squads for the first half, it was anyone’s guess as to who would come out on top.
Then in the fourth quarter, a leader started to emerge, as the Lady Tigers buckled down on defense and made the shots needed to pull ahead.
After the win, Lady Tiger coach Faye Baker said it was better ball control, offensive patience in finding the right passes and shots, and a shift in the defense in the final quarter that made the difference.
“We had to keep the ball out of Tia’s (Liberty’s Latia Fleming’s) hands,” she said.
And they did.
Fleming had 19 points for the Lady Panthers, but only five in the final quarter.
For the Lady Tigers, Brianna Johnson led the way with 23 points, including two shots from behind the arc. She was also 5 of 5 at the line.
The Lady Tigers move to 5-6 overall and 1-3 in Region 3-AAAAA. Liberty is 2-3 overall and has not played a region competitor yet.
Panthers 83, Tigers 63
The Panthers’ new head coach, Julian Stokes, saw his team move to 4-1 overall mark after downing the Tigers 83-63 Friday night.
The Panthers ran up a quick 19-9 lead to close the first quarter. The Tigers never backed down and charged back, coming within five. But Liberty turned up the heat and pulled away to lead 38-25 at the half.
Davion Mitchell dropped in two of his four treys in the third quarter and Tyreon Freeman and Jaalon Frazier hit their treys in the third to keep Liberty ahead 65-38.
But once again, the Tigers didn’t back down and outscored Liberty 20-18 in the final quarter. In that period, Tiger Darryll Johnson dropped in 13 of his 16 points in the game to lead the final rally.
The Panthers’ point spread, however, allowed them to hold on for the win.
Tiger George Mitchell had 13 points, including two back-to-back 3-pointers.
Tiger Jaylon McNair contributed 10 points, Jyaunti Haggray and Brandon Hamlett both scored six points, Jordan Alexander and De’Shaun Coleman both added four, and Anthony Vincente chipped in two.
Panther guard and Auburn commit Davion Mitchell dropped in 24 points, which included four 3-pointers and a slew of slam dunks for the packed gym to enjoy. Richard LeCounte chipped in 16 points, including a 3-pointer; Will Richardson contributed 11 points; Freeman seven, including a 3-pointer; Martial Washington five; Jishaun Harris five; Tracy White five, including a trey; Frazier hit three points off a trey; Comer Kite three; and Tyler Thomas scored two points.
The Tigers are 4-7 overall and 1-3 in Region 3-AAAAA. Liberty is 4-1 overall.
In non-region games Tuesday, the Tiger teams were at Wayne County. The Lady Tigers suffered their second defeat at the hands of the Lady Yellow Jackets, this time 50-38.
The Tiger boys earned their second win over Wayne County in a close game, 52-50. In that contest, Rhett Hellgren said the team needed to limit their turnovers. At Wayne County, the Tiger boys had 25.
“I know we are going to have them, but we have to limit the unforced turnovers,” he said.
Hellgren did note that the Tigers did much better on free-throw shooting.
“We shot 16 for 24 from the line, and that may not sound great, but that is a dramatic improvement for our team,” he said. “We took four charges, and that is giving up yourself for the team, and I’m very pleased with this.”
The coach added that his players still need to develop the patience required to play as a unit.
“When we play with patience and try not to do too much as an individual, we have the ability to stay in games,” Hellgren said. “When we play as individuals, we will lose — and not only lose, but we will lose badly.”
Against the Yellow Jackets, Alexander Jordan had 14 points and four rebounds. Brandon Hamlett chipped in 12 points had three offensive rebounds, seven defensive rebounds and was a perfect 4 of 4 at the line. George Mitchell scored 11 points, and Jyaunti Haggray had seven points and four assists.
Darryll Johnson added four points and three steals, and Jaylon McNair scored four points, had four assists and went 4 of 4 at the line.
The coach said Hamlett had one of his best games to date.
Liberty County was set to host McIntosh County Academy on Saturday. The scores from those games were not available by press time.
On Dec. 12, the Panther boys beat MCA 68-55, and the Lady Panthers won 54-44.