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Panthers knock of Blue Tide, 95-90
1214 Tide bball2
Long County's Eli Guest goes up for a slam dunk against Liberty County on Friday night in Ludowici. - photo by Photo by Mike Riddle
Jordan McRae poured in 37 points and fellow junior Rion Brown added 27 on Friday to lead Liberty County to a 95-90 non-region basketball win over host Long County.
McRae, a University of Tennessee recruit, scored eight second-quarter points as the Panthers outscored their area rivals 21-11 to break a 24-24 tie. Both teams lit up the scoreboard the rest of the way, but Liberty never relinquished the lead.
“We had some mental lapses there, some showboating, and didn’t do the things we needed to do, but we were able to finish it and get the win,” Liberty coach Willie Graham said.
“Long’s a good team. They played us hard a couple of weeks ago, and we knew coming into their house wasn’t going to be easy. They came at us hard.”
Terrell Johnson added 15 points for Liberty (8-0), which is ranked fourth in the Class AAA state coaches poll.
Senior Jimmy Bacon paced the Blue Tide (2-4) with 26 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter. Justin Boyd, who wasn’t expected to play after suffering a foot injury Tuesday at Benedictine, had 22 points, including nine in the final quarter. Denzel Richardson added 17 points.
“Mental mistakes, not getting back on defense, and poor shot selection is what cost us when we fell behind, but pride is what got us back in the game,” said Long coach Deshon Brock.
“Liberty is a great team. Their well-coached, and McRae and Brown are very good. One player who is often overlooked is Johnson. He’s the muscle in the middle; he’s doing the dirty work.”
Both teams’ results Saturday night were not available at presstime. Liberty visited McIntosh County Academy in Darien, while Long took on Tattnall County in Reidsville.
In junior varsity action Friday, Liberty downed Long 53-34. Tamantry Tucker paced Liberty with 16 points, while Chris Buckner had 11 for the Blue Tide.

Liberty vs. Long girls

Liberty County’s girls broke open a close game in the fourth quarter, outscoring Long County 25-12 to earn a 69-51 victory on Friday.
The Lady Panthers (6-2) were led by senior Candace Barham and junior Kourtney Alexander, who tallied 24 and 22 points, respectively. The duo combined for 17 fourth-quarter points.
Liberty coach Carolyn Kelly said her team’s defense in the second half was the difference.
“We saw that they were only six deep, so we changed our defense to press them more and to wear them down,” Kelly said. “We also wanted to take number 23 (Brittany Mills) out of the game, which we were able to do.”
Kelly said she was pleased with the shooting and rebounding of Barham and Diamone Johnson, and the defensive effort of Tay Clay.
Long coach Greg Bailey, whose team fell to 2-4, was happy with the play of several players, particularly senior Shareka Turner, who had a career-high 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. India Gamble added 13 points, while Shanetra Quarterman chipped in with 10.
“Turner played lights out tonight,” Bailey said.
Liberty visited McIntosh County Academy on Saturday night, while Long traveled to Tattnall County.   
In the junior varsity game Friday, Liberty crushed the Blue Tide 55-28. Courtney Rhodes led the Lady Panthers with 16 points. Shaneka Richardson had a game-high 17 for Long.
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