Panthers fall in track meet

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 16, 2006

EXCEL - It was a basketball game that turned into a track meet.

After battling to a near stalemate, Red Level turned up the pressure and the intensity on Georgiana in the semifinals of the Class 2A, Area 2 Tournament to advance to the tournament championship.

For every made basket by Georgiana, the Tigers were able to sprint down the floor ahead of the Panthers defense for a quick basket. Using that style of play, Red Level built a comfortable halftime advantage and cruised the rest of the way for an 89-64 victory.

Red Level (16-11) took on host Excel for the area title Monday night, while Georgiana's season came to a close.

After picking the tempo in the game, the Tigers sprinted to a 43-28 lead by the half.

Red Level continued to put the defensive pressure on Georgiana all 94 feet of the floor. And for every Panther basket, the Tigers responded with two.

Malcolm Lawson scored 14 of his game-high 27 points in the second half for Red Level to salt the win away.

Lawson was one of three Red Level players to finish with double figures. Tim Ryce added 16, while Dominic Williams added 11.

While the game seemed to be out of reach for Georgiana, Harris' squad did battle back and cut the lead to as little as 10 points with five minutes to play.

Georgiana even had a chance to cut Red Level's lead to less than double-digits at the five-minute mark, but the Panthers turned the ball over.

Red Level's pressure defense caused numerous Georgiana turnovers that were converted on the other end of the floor.

&#8220We were able to put pressure on them, and take them out of their game,” Tigers coach Fred Kelley said. &#8220We knew that we had to jump on them early, and that's what we did tonight.”

After having its lead trimmed to 10 points, Red Level responded by going on a 14-2 run to cruise to the win.

Gerard Pleasant led the Panthers with 14 points. Kenney Peterson added 13, and Andre Paige had 10.