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Liberty, Long split varsity cage rivalries
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The Long County Blue Tide and Liberty County Panthers met up on Saturday, December 12 in a big rivalry game in Ludowici. The varsity squads split their games as the Lady Panthers jumped out to a big early lead and the Blue Tide boys held on to their lead late for the wins. 

It was a big early run for the Nichole Tazewell-led Lady Panthers that gave them the opportunity to roll to a big win. Liberty County led 11-0 at the end of the first quarter, but neither team were able to get on the board until midway through the period. 

Destiny Grider got the Panthers going first with a big three-point shot. Liberty County eventually rolled out to a 15-0 lead until the Lady Tide finally got on the board with five minutes left in the first half thanks to a shot from Adryanna Harley. 

The Lady Panthers did not let up, however, as they went on another 8-0 run late in the second quarter to go up 23-2 with three minutes left in the half. The Blue Tide finally got a little production from their offense as they went on a 7-2 run to end out the first half. 

The third quarter was pretty evenly-matched as the Panthers outscored the Tide 11-9, but the 16-point halftime lead for the Panthers gave them enough momentum going into the fourth quarter with a 36-18 lead. 

Midway through the fourth quarter, the Lady Tide went on a 9-2 run to cut the Panthers’ lead down to 11 points. However, another run from Liberty County led to their 46-27 win. 

Grider led the Lady Panthers with 12 points while Gabrielle Washington added eight points. Jada Young led the Lady Tide with nine points and six rebounds. 

Liberty County moves to 2-4 with the win while the Lady Tide fall to 1-5. 

The varsity boys’ game was much more closely contested in the first quarter as the two teams went back and forth. The Panthers were committed to the three all game long, but it took them a while to get going as they were 0-4 from beyond the arc in the first period.

Despite this, they jumped out to an early 10-6 lead thanks to Jerimiah Smoke’s six points. The Tide closed out the first quarter on a 7-0 run closed out by Tostadas Pouncey’s three free throws, which came after he was fouled on a buzzer-beating three point attempt. 

The Blue Tide jumped out to an 8-3 run to start the second quarter, which was highlighted by an incredible alley-oop dunk by Cameryn Johnson. The Panthers kept throwing up bombs from three-point range as they were 2-4 from the arc to cut the Tide’s lead to 21-16 with 2:44 left in the quarter. 

Trinity Gray and Johnson added four more points late in the quarter before the Panthers tied the game up, mostly thanks to Smoke’s three made three-point shots. The Tide held on to a 27-24 lead going into the locker room at the half. 

The Tide once again opened up with another run as they pushed their lead to nine points with a 7-1 run to open the second half. A big three point shot from Jabari O’Neal ended the Tide’s run as the Panthers pulled within four points as the Tide led 36-32 at the end of the third quarter. 

The fourth quarter saw Long County get going from beyond the arc as Pouncey hit three big shots from beyond the J. The Panthers continued to throw up shots from three-point range, but they were only able to hit two as they ended up falling with the Tide pulling away for the 59-51 win. 

Three Tide players scored in double-digits as Pouncey led with 22 points with three, three pointers in the fourth quarter while going 11-11 from the free throw line. Johnson added 14 points, including his huge dunk in the second quarter. Gray had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. 

For the Panthers, Smoke led with 18 points, 12 on three-point shots. O’Neal also had 16 points.

Long County is now 3-3 on the year as they also picked up a win on Thursday, December 10 against Pinewood Christian in a game they picked up. The Panthers are now 3-4 on the season. 

The Tide do not return home until January 12 as they start a ten-game road trip next week. They travel to Jesup to play Wayne County on Tuesday, December 15 before beginning their Christmas tournaments. 

The Panthers face off against region 3-AAA foe Windsor Forest on Tuesday as well. 

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