By SCOTT PHILLIPS
AMERICUS — Americus-Sumter was hoping to wrap up the regular season with a couple of road wins in Cordele on Friday night. In their last basketball games of the regular season, the Panthers and Lady Panthers visited Crisp County High School with hopes of earning some momentum going into the Region 1-AAAA tournament. The Lady Panthers accomplished that task with a 54-48 win, but the Panthers came up just short and will now need to regroup as they prepared for the region tournament.
Americus-Sumter took the first period 17-15 in a tight game, but the Lady Panthers began to pull away in the second period with a 14-7 run to take a 31-22 lead into the halftime break. Americus-Sumter would be outscored 10-7 in the third quarter, but it would not be enough for the Lady Cougars of Crisp as the fourth quarter ended with a 16-16 tie, and a 54-48 final score in favor of the visiting Lady Panthers.
Americus-Sumter was led in scoring by senior Kahler Fletcher who scored a game-high 20 points while adding four steals and two rebounds. Fellow senior Kayla Bowens was second in scoring with 11 points, and A’Dasjah Mercer added eight points, 11 rebounds and two steals in the victory.
Lady Panther head coach Evelyn Wright said that her starters did an excellent job in the Region 1-AAAA win, but her bench also played a key role in the victory. “We got some points from our bench and that was really a good thing for us. We also did a good job from the free throw line which was a good thing for us too.”
Following the Lady Panthers win the boy’s of Americus-Sumter were hoping to complete the road sweep. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Crisp County would use a huge second period to gain a lead that they would not surrender for the remainder of the night.
The Panthers took a 10-8 lead following the first quarter, but a 16-4 second quarter run from the Cougars would give the home team a 24-14 lead going into the halftime break. Americus-Sumter would narrow that gap to 38-33 with a 19-14 third period, but Crisp County would storm ahead in the final quarter with a 18-8 run to close out the final period and claim the huge Region 1-AAAA victory.
The road contest marks the end of the regular season for the Americus-Sumter basketball program, and now all eyes will be on the postseason. The Lady Panthers will tip off today at 4 p.m. in Crisp County again against the winner of Monday night’s Westover/Worth County winner. The Lady Panthers finish the regular season with a 16-7 overall record and an 8-6 record in Region 1-AAAA play.
By SCOTT PHILLIPS
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