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Lady Panthers defeat St. Vincent's but lose to Hephzibah
LaQuananisha Adams sustains knee injury, return questionable
Metra Walthour (left) and Nisha Adams signed with Georgia Tech earlier this year and have displayed they are worthy of being Yellow Jackets throughout the season. Adams sustained a knee injury in their game against Hephzibah and her return this season is questionable. - photo by Photo Patty Leon
Lady Panthers 52, St. Vincent's 34
Lady Panthers 63   Hephzibah 82
After a somewhat easy victory Friday against St. Vincent's (52-34) the Lady Panthers traveled to Hephzibah on Saturday and lost more than just the game.
About three minutes left before the half and only down a few points, Georgia Tech signee and star player Nisha Adams went down. It was a pop heard from Hephzibah to Liberty County and onto Atlanta.
"We don't know the extent of Nisha's injury, except to say that it was her knee that was injured," Lady Panther head coach Carolyn Kelly said. "We need to have her evaluated to see whether it is going to require surgery or not."
Kelly said she was proud of her team who played neck-and-neck against a powerful, three-point shooting team like Hephzibah. But with one of her stars down and her backup having to sit for all of the third quarter because of fouls she knew it gave the edge to Hephzibah.
"Once Nisha went down and with Candice Barham having to sit, they took a 10-point lead," Kelly said. "When Nisha went down and was out they fed off that. They no longer had Nisha to contend with and they got the momentum. Our girls, on the other hand, knew they lost Nisha and that played a mental factor in their game."
Kelly said while Adams was in the game she was able to play off her man. Kelly said her team went to a man-to-man defense; something they didn't practice a lot but adjusted well to and were in the game competitively until Adams went down.
"It was good fight," she said of the first half. "We were at that point where our kids were comfortable playing a team like Hephzibah. As always they were a well coached team and they have girls that can shoot the ball. You must give coach Wendell Lofton some credit."
Despite being smaller, the opposition was prepared, Kelly said.
"We went to a man defense because we knew we had to cut down on their three-point shoot abilities. And for a while we did. But Nisha had to come out and Barham had foul trouble and sat all of the third quarter and part of the fourth quarter so we had to put in our younger players and we didn't get much of nothing offensively or defensively and we just never got the momentum back. I know they are not a 20-point better team than us."
The extent of Adams' knee injury is being evaluated. Depending on whether it requires surgery will determine if she can return this season. For Kelly it means it's time her backups step in to take the leadership role along with Metra Walthour.
"It's like I've been saying this whole season," the coach said. "The younger players need to step up and not depend on Metra and Nisha because they aren't going to be here next year.
"They need to be tough in big games and they need to step up and play. It was bound to happen sooner or later and it just so happens that it was sooner and Miata, Kourtney, and Candice need to step up now. Mentally they weren't ready for that type of competition but they need to be."
Kelly knows her team will struggle in the next few games as they face opponents without Adams as the quick release person.
"Do I think we have the athletes we need to continue to win? Yes, but they have to want it for themselves and go out there and do it," she said. "Everybody that we play from here on out will think they can beat us because she (Adams) was a key component of our team. Now they think they can box and one Metra and shut down my other three shooters. Hephzibah comes to Liberty Jan. 25. Hopefully by that time we will have time to develop those other kids and we plan to do some things different against them."

Metra Walthour, 16
Miata Askew, 10
Kourtney Alexander, 12
Marcella Gordon, 8
Candice Barham, 8
Nisha Adams, 6
Shanetious Clay, 3

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