The Liberty County Panthers basketball teams manhandled the Long County Blue Tide on Tuesday in an important Region 2-AAA meeting. All four of the teams were looking to gain momentum heading into the latter part of the season, but it was the home teams that came away with a pair of dominant wins.
The girls, led by first-year head coach Nichole Tazewell, improved to 5-9 and 3-3 in region play with a 52-39 victory in a game that never saw the Lady Panthers trail. Liberty County was led by seniors Jasmine Brooks, who had a game-high 15 points, and Alaynna Flanders, who had 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Lady Blue Tide struggled from the free throw line as they finished below 50 percent hitting just 14 of their 32 attempts. Senior Malaka Elix led the team with 13 points, while fellow senior Elexxus Wrighton recorded nine rebounds in the contest.
With the loss, the Lady Tide fell to 10-10 and 2-4 in the region, falling out of the top four in the standings. A 58-54 Friday night loss to Tattnall County knocked them to 10-11 and 2-5, which also gave the Warriors the regular season region title, ensuring they would host the region tournament in three weeks.
The Lady Panthers jolted past their next county rivals for the fourth spot in the standings.
The Panthers boys took to the court looking to avenge an early season road loss they suffered against the Blue Tide. This time, star player and Auburn signee Davion Mitchell took the court after missing the previous match-up with a foot injury and he and junior Will Richardson certainly showed out from the get-go.
Richardson put momentum firmly on the Panthers’ side as he hit scored 10 of the team’s 12 points to open the game.
That is when things took a turn for the worse for the Blue Tide after they were called for two technical fouls within 30 seconds of each other.
Mitchell connected on an "and-1" free throw to open a 17-9 lead for Liberty County and another big three by Richardson pushed it to 20-9. However, Long County’s Henry Blair threw down a monster dunk in the lane to spark a 6-0 run for the Tide, making the score 20-15.
The Panthers took advantage of a third Tide technical and went on a 12-0 tear to end the first quarter up 32-15. Richardson connected on another "and-1" play to give his team a 20-point lead early in the second quarter, leading to a 17-0 run since late in the first quarter.
Liberty County continued to push their lead in the second quarter as they went into the half up 61-36 and looking to continue their dominance.
The Panthers connected on a trio of 3-point shots in the third quarter and pushed their lead to 91-64.
It was not long into the final period that the Panthers pushed their score to triple digits, the second time the team has pushed past the 100-point mark this year. The Panthers held onto their impressive lead and pulled out a big 121-82 win over the Tide.
The mark is the most points the Blue Tide have ever allowed and the first time allowing a team to score over 100 since 2014. The Panthers were led by a huge 38 points and 12 rebounds from Richardson while Mitchell recorded 24 points.
Jyaunti Haggray finished the game 4-6 from 3-point range with 19 points for the Panthers. The Tide was paced by Blair with 17 points and Terry Smith with 15.
The Tide returned to action Friday night with a home match-up against Tattnall County.
They fell 76-66 to bring their record to 14-8 and 4-3.
The Panthers continued their win streak with a 71-55 win over Appling County to move to 13-5 and 6-1 in region play.