Panthers, Tide meet again
By Mike Riddle
The basketball version of the Liberty County vs. Long County rivalry will be renewed tonight in Ludowici.
The teams met two weeks ago at LCHS, and the Panthers earned a hard-fought win, 76-65.
"They wanted it more (than us)," Long County coach Deshon Brock said of that game.
The Panthers enter the non-region contest with a 7-0 record and a No. 4 ranking in the Gasports.com Class AAA coaches poll.
Liberty is led by Rion Brown and Jordan McRae. In the last game against the Blue Tide, the dynamic duo accounted for 55 of their team’s 76 points.
The Blue Tide is 2-3 after losing to Region 2-AA foe Benedictine 50-45 on Tuesday night in Savannah.
The Tide are led by Jimmy Bacon, who scored 28 points in the first meeting with Liberty. Justin Boyd added 12 points, and Ricky Rivera chipped in with 10.
Don’t expect the Panthers to be overconfident. Liberty coach Willie Graham said Long is "a good team."
The tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Get there early. The teams’ last meeting drew a packed house in Flemington.
Long County girls
Liberty’s girls are out for their second win this season against the Lady Blue Tide. When the teams met in Flemington, the Lady Panthers (5-2) outscored Long County 13-4 in the third quarter to pull out a 57-46 win.
Long County (2-3), which led 19-13 at the end of the first quarter, kept within striking distance throughout.
Liberty is led by Kourtney Alexander and Candace Barham. Barham, a 5-foot-8 power forward, recently signed a scholarship with NAIA school Brewton-Parker.
Alexander tallied 15 points in the first Long County game.
The Lady Blue Tide will depend heavily on senior Brittany Mills, who scored 14 points earlier against Liberty, and teammates Shanetra Quarterman and India Gamble.
Game time in Ludowici is 6 p.m.
Liberty County High School’s basketball teams split games at home Tuesday night against Beach.
Beach knocked off the Lady Panthers (5-2) for the second time this season, 58-34, while the Panther boys (7-0) earned a dramatic 69-64 win.
The win over the Bulldogs from Savannah catapulted the Panthers from No. 10 to No. 4 in this week’s Gasports.com state Class AAA coaches poll.
The game was close throughout, with never more than seven points separating the teams. Beach tied the game at 64 with 5.6 seconds remaining, and then fouled Liberty County’s Rion Brown with 5.1 seconds left.
Before attempting his first foul shot, Brown pointed at the clock and said out loud, "It’s over."
He kept his word, sinking
both free throws, but Beach
still had a few ticks on the clock to try and send the game into overtime. The Bulldogs, however, were called for an illegal dribble on an inbounds miscue, which gave the ball back to the Panthers.
Brown ensured the win with two more free throws. Julian Stokes added a foul shot of his own.
Brown and Jordan McRae scored 16 points apiece to lead the Panthers offensively. Roderick Jones added 10.
Melvin Wilson paced Beach with 17 points.
Perennial power Beach capitalized on several turnovers en route to its victory. With her future college coach, Dawn Staley, watching from the stands, South Carolina recruit Monique Willis led the Lady Bulldogs’ offense with 19 points. Khalilah Watson, who signed with Alabama-Birmingham, added 12 points.
"They came out and ran a press on us, and we had a lot of trouble breaking that," Liberty coach Carolyn Kelly said.
Both squads struggled at the line.
The play of Marcella Gordon and Diamone Johnson stood out for Liberty. Gordon scored 10 points and led her team’s rebounding efforts, while Johnson, a freshman, contributed 12 points.
"We intended to play Diamone a lot," Kelly said. "She is the kind of player where the more she stays on the court, the better she is going to get."
Kelly said Johnson doesn’t fear her opponents, and took the opportunity of a non-region game to sharpen her skills and improve her dribbling.
"She is making an adjustment from her middle school games," Kelly said. "There she played in the post area, and now in her freshman year, we switched her to guard. But you can see why we can expect some good things from Diamone."