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Panthers fall in region openers in Savannah
Mekhi Ellis
Mekhi Ellis attempts dunk against Johnson - photo by Gerald Thomas III



Wins are still nonexistent for the Liberty County (0-4, 0-1 Region 3-3A) Lady Panthers as they fell 61-55 to the Johnson Lady Smashers (2-1, 1-0) in Savannah in the region opener.

They had the task of guarding star guard/forward Amani Hamilton.

The Lady Smashers jumped out to an early lead behind the star duo of Hamilton and Hankerson.

With 5:39 left in the first quarter, they were up 9-0.

Destiny Grider scored the Lady Panthers first points off two free throws.

The lead would get up to 15-2 for the Lady Smashers.

But the Lady Panthers made a 6-0 run to get their deficit back to single digits.

The second quarter saw the Lady Panthers compete and eventually take the lead.

Mo Jenkins scored their first points.

But Mylan Tanner was the spark, hitting some outside shots that would give the Lady Panthers some hope as they trailed 23-20.

A Lady Smasher player got confused and shot the ball at the wrong basket, missing – but Keyera Grant cleaned it up for her and scored for her Lady Panthers.

Before halftime, Dallas Spencer made a midrange shot for the Lady Panthers to take their first lead of the game at 26-25 going into the break.

The Lady Smashers got back up as play continued in the second half with two quick baskets, taking a 29-26 lead.

Grider would go to line and reclaim her Lady Panther’s lead at 32-31.

Hamilton got it right back for the Lady Smashers though.

Asia Johnson checked in for the Lady Panthers and knotted the game at 40 after cashing in on a three.

With 5:47 left in the game the Lady Panthers got the lead back after a score at the rim by Johnson.

They eventually took a 50-45 lead but went cold for the final four minutes as once the game tied at 53, they couldn’t score again as Lady Smashers went on a 15-3 run to end it.

Hamilton had the game high at 23 and Tanner led the Lady Panthers with 14.

The Lady Panthers will next host Savannah High on Friday, Dec. 10.


The Liberty County Panthers (2-2, 0-1 Region 3-3A) has dropped two in a row after falling 61-40 to the Johnson Atomsmashers (2-1, 1-0 Region 3-3A).

The game started off going bucket for bucket.

At the first stop in action, it was a tie game at 12.

Mekhi Ellis even took flight and jammed in a dunk as the Panthers led 18-17 at the end of the first.

The Panthers could only score two points in the second quarter, getting outscored 18-2.

Johnson took the lead a minute into the second.

Ted Hurst slammed in a dunk of his own to take a 24-18 Atomsmasher lead.

The Atomsmashers would go up 30-20 and eventually 35-20 when it was all said and done in the second half after they held the ball for the final 35 seconds before swinging the ball to Jaheim Brown for a tre.

No momentum was able to be grabbed by the Panthers in the second half as the Atomsmashers held on to their double-digit lead.

“Defense and turnovers,” Panthers Head Coach Levon Grant said after the loss. “We got a team right here that we’re trying to teach how to play the game a different way. Coach Grant way. It’s going to be a learning process each and every time we step on the floor. We’re going to have a lot of ups and downs, peaks, and valleys this year. It’s going to be some games where we look spectacular. It’s going to be some games where we don’t look so spectacular. But we got to keep chopping the wood and get this program where we want.”

Brown had the game high with 12.

Corey Love Jr. led the Panthers with 10.

The Panthers will have Savannah High in town on Friday, Dec. 10 in their next contest.

“We’re going to get back into practice tomorrow,” Grant said. “It’s back to the basics again doing the things that we’ve been doing getting better each and every day. We got a nice template of the way we do things and we’re going to continue to work harder at doing those things and get ready for Friday.”

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