As teams progress through the state basketball playoffs, the opposition is supposed to become harder.
The Liberty County boys’ team found that to be true against Lovejoy High in a Sweet 16 game Wednesday in Hampton as the host Wildcats eliminated the Panthers, 64-34.
The Wildcats did what they’ve done all season: use 6-foot-9-inch center Justin Tuoyo to make shots and control the interior game. Tuoyo scored 10 points, nabbed eight rebounds and blocked nine LCHS shots.
“The big man in the paint was tough,” Panthers coach Willie Graham said. “He controlled our efforts to score in the paint all night.”
The Wildcats had four players score in double digits in the win.
Graham said the Panthers were in trouble from the get-go.
“We did not execute on defense, starting with their first possession,” he said.
The Panthers, who finished 21-8 overall and 5-5 in Region 2A-AAAA, will lose seniors Melvin King, Sayvon Wilson, DeAnte Bacon and Tamontray Tucker to graduation.
Graham said this summer he will focus on rebuilding the squad for another run next year. Potential returnees for next season include Dee Brooks, Aaron Scott, Michael Farrior and Conner Bailey.