SAVANNAH -- It was a competitive one out at Savannah High School in the Region 3-3A meeting between the Liberty County Lady Panthers (5-8, 4-3 Region 3-3A) and the Lady Blue Jackets (7-9, 3-4 Region 3-3A) just like their Dec. 10 matchup.
The Lady Blue Jackets avenged that 37-34 loss in December by winning a last second battle 42-41.
The first quarter ended with 12 combined points from both teams, the Lady Panthers having control with a 7-5 lead.
Responsible for their seven points were Destiny Grider, Keyera Grant, and Jaelynn Dawson.
The Lady Panthers fell behind in the second quarter due to Ernajah Mallard draining a corner three to pull the Lady Blue Jackets ahead 8-7.
Grider exploded to the basket with 1:42 left in the half for an and-one score to put her Lady Panthers back in the driver’s seat, possessing a 12-10 advantage.
She had 16 for the night.
But the Lady Blue Jackets put together two baskets to head into the lockers up 14-12 on the Lady Panthers.
The Lady Panthers came in the second half and next thing you know, they were up double digits.
Johnson cleaned up a Grider free throw miss and Mo Jenkins and Grider made transition buckets for a 19-14 lead.
The Lady Panthers began running when they took over and led 30-18 after scores by Johnson and Mylan Tanner.
By the final third quarter buzzer they led 33-23.
That momentum didn’t carry over to the fourth quarter for the Lady Panthers.
With less than a minute to go in the game, the Lady Blue Jackets were up 42-39.
Tanner brought the Lady Panthers within one with 30 seconds.
With one more shot at victory, Lady Panthers head coach Kimberly Battle drew up a play with nine seconds, but they came up empty handed, misfiring on the buzzer beating tre.
The Lady Panthers will next compete at home against Windsor Forest on Friday, Jan. 28.
The Liberty County Panthers (6-6, 2-4 Region 3-3A) wanted celebrate guard and team scoring leader Corey Love’s return to the lineup by knocking off region opponent Savannah High Blue Jackets (7-9, 1-6 Region 3-3A) on Tuesday.
Love was quarantined during the last game against Johnson where the Panthers fell 54-39 after struggling to put points on the board in the second half.
But the Blue Jackets played spoiler beating the Panthers 50-49 at the buzzer.
The first half was slow paced as if these teams never met each other, which they did on Dec. 10 when the Panthers edged the Blue Jackets 60-55 in Hinesville.
At the break the Panthers led 26-19.
Jeremiah Smoke started off the second half by connecting on an and one on a midrange jumper.
Once the final eight minutes pulled in the Panthers led by 10 begin it.
But by the five-minute mark the Blue Jackets cut it to a two-point deficit.
With two minutes left Love scored at the tin through the harm, going to the line and extend the Panthers’ lead to 46-42 with two minutes to go.
Chance Hendricks of Savannah High finally took a lead for the Blue Jackets scoring with 24 seconds left and holding on to a 47-46.
But junior guard Joshua Smith quickly responded going coast to coast and scoring through a foul to put the Panthers in front 49-48 with 10 seconds left.
But that was just enough time for legendary and longtime Blue Jacket head coach Tim Jordan to draw up something.
After the timeout the Blue Jackets went the distance leading to Ahmaud Davis floating a shot up for the one-point win at the buzzer.
“Down the stretch we took better care of the ball last time and this time we didn’t take care of the ball at all,” a disappointed head coach Levon Grant said. “Felt like we settled for too many jumpshots down the stretch instead of taking the ball to the basket which we had been doing all night and then got to the fourth quarter and acted like we didn’t know how to do it anymore. But that’s the ups and downs, peaks and valleys you have when you coach young teenage boys. We’ll get to where we want to go. You get frustrated a little bit but not so much. This is my 18th year coaching as a head basketball coach. If you’re coaching a team that doesn’t know how to win you got to teach them. I don’t call them mistakes I call them OTGB’s – Opportunities to get Better.”
Love had 27 on the night before fouling out late in the fourth quarter but Grant wasn’t in the business of showering with compliments after a loss.
“He wasn’t good enough,” Grant said of Love. “Down the stretch he made critical mistakes. When you have a good player like Corey, he has to understand situations down the stretch a little bit better and I thought he settled a few times for the jumpshot when he should’ve taken it to the basket to seal the deal for us and we didn’t do it.”
The Panthers will have Windsor Forest in town on Friday, Jan. 28.
“It’s not about Windsor Forest or no team that we play,” Grant said of the upcoming region game against the Region 3-3A leader and No. 2 team in 3A. “It’s about us doing the things that we’re supposed to do so that we can help our team be better.”