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Panthers defeat Wildcats in regional game
Rion Brown (wearing white) thrilled the crowd Friday night when he made a rim-grabbing slam-dunk and ignited the Panthers’ offense. The Panthers defeated the Wildcats, 64-45. - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon
The Richmond Hill Wildcats prowled into the Panthers’ home turf Jan. 4, but soon left bitten and beaten. Both the Men and Lady Panthers stalked their prey and eventually pounced the Wildcats into submission, adding another regional win to their record.

Lady Panthers 68,
Lady Wildcats 32
The Lady Panthers jumped out and hit the baskets early in the first period. Within six minutes, they established an 18-2 lead over the Wildcats. It was a deficit the Wildcats could not overcome.
With Metra Walthour, LaQuananisha Adams and Candice Barham hitting the shots, the Panthers extended their lead and were 20 points ahead by the end of the half (34-14).
The big scare for the Panther fans and the coaching staff came when Adams hit the court hard and quickly grabbed her knee.
“A Wildcat defender bent her leg back,” Lady Panther head coach Carolyn Kelly said. “She hit the floor hard and we weren’t sure if she injured her knee.”
Adams, who got up and walked off the court, was immediately seen by the athletic trainer.
“We had her checked out,” Kelly said. “She slightly twisted her ankle but her knee and everything else checked out okay. She felt better and went in for a few more plays but we felt it was best to sit her for the remainder of the game as a precautionary measure.”
Even with Adams out of the game and many of the Lady Panthers’ secondary stepping in, the Wildcats could not muster up enough offense to offset the scoring ability of the Lady Panthers. With 3:38 left in the third, the Lady Panthers were up 45-16.
The Wildcats’ small rally came afterwards when they added 16 points. But the Panthers were also able to add another 23 points to the board for the final 68-32 victory.
It was the second straight regional victory for the Lady Panthers but Kelly is not celebrating just yet.
“Even though we had a big win tonight, I was really frustrated at the way we performed,” she said. “We didn’t do a good job defensively. We are still not executing our defense the way we should be at this point of the year. Our conditioning is the biggest thing here.
“We’ve been working and working and trying to get them into the shape they need to be, but it is taking a lot longer than I was hoping or expecting it would take. Tonight was not a good showing for us defensively,” she said.
The Lady Panthers were set to face Wayne County on Saturday in a non-regional game. Kelly hopes the game gives their team an opportunity to work out their defense.
“We were not shifting where we were supposed to,” she said. “We were not boxing out well. We were not going after the basketball. That is our main concern right now. At this point of the year, all those factors should just be clicking and it’s just not happening for us. We have two people that are giving us all that we need and three others are out of position. That’s the problem. There is no consistency in the defense we are trying to play and not much unity among the players.”
She said she hopes to do a better job defensively, not only against Wayne County on Saturday, but also against Tattnall and St. Vincent’s before facing top region rival Hephzibah.
“We are hoping to do a much better job defensively since that is our biggest concern right now,” she said. “Just having players being in the right spot at the right time and hustling after the ball. If we go and play as nonchalant as we did Friday, we may have some trouble. I’m glad to have that win but it was not the kind of win we were expecting to get. Hephzibah is five days away so we have very little time to get our game together.”

Metra Walthour 17
Nisha Adams 14
Candice Barham 12
Precious Williams 6
Miata Askew 6
Kourthney Alexander 6
Janesha Ross 2
Marcella Gordon 2
Valencia Scott 2
Shanetious Clay 1

Panthers 64, Wildcats 45
Unlike the Ladies, the Panthers struggled against the Wildcats for the first half of the game. The Wildcats kept themselves within one or two points and got more rebounds.
"We had to fight and came back in the second half in order to win," Panther head coach Willie Graham said. "We did make some mistakes and if I had to put it on a grading scale, I would give our performance a C."
The Panthers regrouped during halftime and began to make the shots and the plays late in the third period and throughout the fourth. The energy intensified and the crowd cheered the Panthers on when Rion Brown sprang into the air for a rim-grabbing slam-dunk.
With 6:37 left in the fourth, the Wildcats were behind by 12 points. Five minutes later, the Panther lead by 19 to win 64-45.
Despite the victory, Graham was disappointed by a few factors.
"We need to keep correcting our consistency and keep in our game a little more mentally," he said.
Another factor was one of his starter, Terrell Johnson, did not dress out due to a violation of team rules.
"He missed practice and did not notify or communicate with anyone about it so he had to sit this game out," Graham said.
Looking forward, Graham knows there are several opponents ahead who could give his team a run for their money. Asked whether his team would be ready for Hephzibah, Graham said he would take one game at a time.
"If we can correct some of these mistakes, then we will be all right against Hephzibah," he said. "We take it one at a time. The better they are playing the better we will play. We knew this game (Richmond Hill) would be a difficult game because they are small but quick and they play wide open. Sometimes we tend to get lost in other teams' games instead of playing our own. Hopefully for Hephzibah, we will play our own game."

Jordan McRae 14
Michael Manning 13
Rashine Mitchell 10
Emmanuel Fuller 9
Donrico Wigfall 6
Rion Brown 6
Will Lee 6

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