Panthers beat Neal, face Excel

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 21, 2005

The Georgiana Panthers had the opportunity to experience a feeling that they have not felt since the first game of the season – the feeling of victory.

The Panthers took the court Tuesday night in the final game of a four-game road stretch and gave the fans something to brag about.

After dropping games to Red Level and to Greenville, the Panthers fought back against Flomaton on Monday night only to fall short in the fourth quarter.

Tuesday was their night and they played like it.

They were due.

"It was great, my guys were excited and i guess it's been a long time and right now we've beaten the record from last year and that shows improvement," said Derek Roberts, coach of the Georgiana Panthers.

"But right now, we are focusing

on the area tournament and Red Level.

Despite drawing first blood with a three-pointer from Kenny Peterson, the Panthers fell behind 4-3.

Pee Joe McMeans banged home a basket but, the Eagles claimed the lead again with their pass-base, methodical half-court offense.

They tacked on another three and hung on for a 9-5 lead at the end of the first period.

W.S. Neal pushed ahead to 13-5 before the Panthers sent a shooter to the line and sank one of two free throws.

Georgiana battled back and cut the lead to five following a pair of freebies from McMeans. Williams cut the lead to three with a basket.

Williams drove the lane sinking the basket and picking up the foul, but was unable to connect on the foul shot to end the half.

At the intermission, the Panthers found themselves in a usual situation, down 15-12.

But, the second half proved to be a different story.

The Panthers pushed ahead with a four-point run to claim a slim, one-point lead, 16-15. Jamie Williams picked up a basket, along with McMeans and Samson Nelson.

Georgiana tacked on nine points and swelled their lead to 21-15.

But, the Eagles battled back with a run of their own to cut the lead to one-point.

The third quarter ended with Georgiana clinging to a three-point lead, 24-21.

But, in the fourth quarter, it was all Panther basketball as they pulled away from their competition thanks to a 10-4 scoring margin.

Georgiana however, learned that they had free throw trouble late in the game. The Panthers sent four shooters to the charity stripe, and came away with no baskets out of five attempts.

As a team, the Panthers finished the night 8-of-22 from the free throw line. That equals to a dismall 36 percent.

"Free throws are still killing us," said Roberts. "We were 8/22 against Neal. Free throws have been a thorn in our side just about every game we played."

"When we were in Greenville we were 13/35. But they did pay for it Wednesday at practice, for every free throw they missed, they paid for it."

McMeans finished the night with 13 points followed by Peterson with 11 points.

Excel marked the Panthers last area game of the seaosn. From there, they will more than likely have to travel to Red Level for the area tournament.

"We've played them twice and they've beaten us pretty badly both times we've played them and we just can't figure out their press. The press got us in both games with Red Level. We don't have any games next week so we are going to spend the week working on the press. We have Brantley the next week and then it's the area tournament," said Roberts. "The Neal game was a tremendous win for us."

"We only have one area game left and then we have brantley. hopefully we can keep focused and play like we played against W.S. Neal, in that game we played exceptionally well and exceptionally hard."