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Panthers sting Yellow Jackets in second meeting
Willie Graham
In their second meeting this season the Yellow Jackets once again felt the Panthers’ sting as the Men and Lady Panthers invaded Wayne County and clawed their way to victory.

Men Panthers 59, Wayne County 49
With Michael Manning and Jordan McRae leading the shots, the Panthers were able to hold onto a 10-point lead for the win. Despite the victory, head coach Willie Graham is hoping his team can shake off a holiday lull and get it together.
“We are not where we want to be right now,” he said. “We probably had a little fallback since being off for the Christmas holidays so we have to get back to where we were and then move on. We were not completely satisfied of where we were at before the holidays and we are having too many unnecessary turnovers in our game. Our shots selection is suspect at times in critical positions and our defense is not where it should be. We see signs of what it can be and should be, but it’s not there consistently enough. We need to be consistent.”
Graham will use practices to run repeated drills in offensive drives and pushes as well as reacting to opponents’ offense and defensive strategy.
“We will continue to run drills and repeat things over and over,” he said. “It’s disappointing to see them play things right once and the next two times, in the same situation, it’s played wrong. We knew it was going to take awhile. We have a lot of new faces, younger players.”
This week the Panthers prepared for a non-region game Tuesday evening against Tattnall County and set their sight on Benedictine, a team Graham feels is one of the toughest on his schedule.
“For us the biggest threat is Benedictine,” Graham said. “I think Hephzibah will be a lot easier for us than Benedictine will. Mentally the style that Benedictine uses will present more of a challenge for us. They will play it real slow and controlled. We will see a lot of zone. They consistently play zone.  They will keep a game in the low 40’s.”
The Panthers were scheduled to tip-off against Benedictine Tuesday night. Game scores and highlights will be in Friday’s Courier.

Scoring against Wayne County
Michael Manning 16
Jordan McRae 13
Donrico Wigfall 6
Rion Brown 6
Emmanuel Fuller 6
Will Lee 5
Roderick Jones 4
Charles Friend 2
Julian Stokes 1

Lady Panthers 64, Lady Yellow Jackets 41

The Lady Panthers’ big lead over the Yellow Jackets didn’t completely satisfy head coach Carolyn Kelly. She says her team did not play to potential.
“We still have a lot of work ahead of us,” she said. “We told the kids they didn’t do a good job of boxing out. We didn’t do a good job of running our sets. We still have a long way to go. This has happened to us before. In the last two years we come out strong the first half of the season and then we have a tendency of forgetting everything that they were taught and lagging for the second half. We told them they had to play with more heart. We didn’t do a lot of things right against Wayne. Fortunately for us we had better athletes on the floor for our team and we capitalized on that.”
Kelly feels the Panthers are not going after the ball as hard as they should be and they are not boxing out opponents the way they should.
“That’s what we are working on today,” she said. “We told them you have to want it. The new season starts today at practice and they have to come out and work hard. We have a lot of talent, but if they don’t utilize it and work hard then we will not get better. We told them at the game, you never stay the same you are either going to get better or get worse. We have the talent here. As coaches we can teach them the skills to run the plays. We can tell you where you are supposed to be, but unless you come out with the desire to do better and get better then that’s all we can do.”
The Lady Panther were scheduled to play Tattnall Tuesday night and then St. Vincent’s on Friday. But for Kelly the game she is waiting for is against top seeded Hephzibah.
“We are hoping to come out and get a hand in their (Tattnall) face a lot quicker,” she said. “Because we know Hephzibah are people with their four guards who can shoot the three and get the ball up really quick. We told the kids that we don’t think we can match up with them as far as man-to-man so we have to play some form of zone that will allow us to match up with them. We can’t go out there nonchalant. We have to get our hands up in their face and be aggressive with them. That’ s what we are going to work on against Tattnall and St. Vincent’s to help us get ready for Hephzibah.
The Lady Panthers will face Hephzibah twice in the regular season and, if both teams make it to the regions playoffs, will hopefully face each other again.
“I hope we can get two wins out of three meets against Hephzibah,” she said. “That will be a good booster for the morale and the players. If you ask me can we do it, I say most definitely. They got the four outside shooters but we got the inside. That’s where the difference is.”

Scoring against Wayne County
Metra Walthour 20
Nisha Adams 17
Candice Barham 8
Miata Askew 4
Marcella Gordon 4
Kourtney Alexander 4
Shanetious Clay 3
Precious Williams 2
Janesha Ross 2
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