Liberty County boys’ basketball team started the season with an 83-75 win over Jenkins Saturday in Savannah.
The Panthers won the Class AAAA state title last year, the first time in the program’s history. The boys are looking for a repeat performance this season in Class AAA.
True to form, Auburn commit Davion Mitchell slammed in 31 points in Saturday’s win. Junior Will Richardson had a double-double with 29 points and 10 rebounds.
Second-year Panther coach Julian Stokes said the win came despite missing a few key players who are still playing football.
Noticeably absent from the hardwood was Mitchell’s long-time friend and teammate Richard LeCounte, who is committed to play football for the University of Georgia. He is still making big plays on the gridiron while Liberty makes a state run. And after the season, LeCounte’s commitment to UGA might keep him off the basketball court.
Also missing from the Panthers’ starting lineup is Jaalon Frazier, who is also finishing off the football season.
“He is the main one… our clean up guy and leading rebounder from last year,” Stokes said about Frazier. “He is going to help us big time this year. I expect with the key guys we have returning, we should be solid enough to make another deep run come late February.”
The Panthers are now 1-0.
The Lady Panthers, under new head coach Nichole Tazewell, also played Jenkins and took the game down to the buzzer before falling by two points, 52-50. The Lady Panther started sluggish and managed only six points in the first and six in the second quarter. During intermission, Tazewell rallied her girls, who went on to outscore Jenkins 38-27 in the second half. But the slow start kept Liberty from tying or taking the lead as time expired.
“They just turned up their defensive intensity and pushed the ball up the court for easy baskets,” Tazewell said about her players’ second-half push. “They did not allow Jenkins offense do whatever they wanted like they did in the first half. Although we lost, I am proud of the fight my girls gave and I am willing to work with anyone who has fight. We definitely have to tighten up in quite a few areas and we will do that as we turn our focus to Bradwell this upcoming Saturday.”
Lady Panther Jasmine Brooks led scoring with 23 points. The Lady Panthers start the season 0-1.
Saturday, the Panthers will host long-time local rival Bradwell Institute. The girls take the court at 6:30 p.m. and the boys game will follow.