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Lady Panthers open at W.S. Neal

The Georgiana Panthers girls basketball team finished last season by being put out of the sub-regional tournament. They also lost a majority of their experience last season as well.

This season the Lady Panthers have six returning players from last season. The rest of their depth is made up by seventh and eighth graders.

&uot;We’ve got a lot of young players, seventh and eighth graders,&uot; said John Cheatham, coach of the Georgiana Lady Panthers. &uot;We really should have had about 10 people coming back from last season that we have lost, but some of them didn’t come back for some reason and we have six back from last season. Our bench is not going to be strong but we hope to get it stronger throughout the season.&uot;

Despite the lack of numbers, Cheatham is still positive about the season.

&uot;We have some experienced players that play hard and work hard and I think that we are going to do as well or better than we did last season if we can keep them on the floor. Other than the inexperience we should do well, Cheatham said.

Cheatham is not accepting the dropoff in knowledge as an excuse when it comes to scoring.

&uot;Basically we are going to have five people score when they are on the floor,&uot; Cheatham said. &uot;Lakesha Crittendon will do a bulk of the scoring. She’s multi-talented and can shoot off the dribble. She can post up and score down low. But we are looking for all five of those girls from last season to do a bulk of the scoring for us. And I think they can.

But, the lack of knowledge can be a problem. The Lady Panthers are still working on their basic offensive packages right now.

&uot;We have some players from last year, they know our man defense basically all the zone defense and offenses,&uot; Cheatham said. &uot;We want to play a one-on-one, but we basically have a weak bench so we don’t know if we are going to be able to do that. Because we can’t rest some people up in tight games. As we bring those other people forward get them better, then they are going to have to play zone defense.&uot;

The seventh and eighth graders can play varsity because they are housed at the same facility as the high school, basically if they are on the same campus as the high school.

&uot;They will be on the court with seniors and have a basic knowledge of our offense,&uot; Cheatham said. &uot;they will be on the court and will know the play that we basically run all the time, but they are still not skilled in handling or shooting the ball when faced with pressure. If we can get them used to running the floor and shooting then we should successful.&uot;

One of the aspects that’s going to be detrimental to the Lady Panthers later down the road is the fact that they aren’t going to have the tournament experience.

Georgiana plays a 16 game schedule without going to a tournament.

We tried to get a tournament, but each one we tried to get into fell through,&uot; said Cheatham. &uot;But I think that each team we have on there is going to be a challenge. We are just going to take it one game at a time.

Georgiana will open their season against W.S. Neal on Monday and then will play Greenville High on Tuesday afternoon.

&uot;Greenville is a pretty good team,&uot; Cheatham said. &uot;But

I like playing a 5A school, that’s how we get better.&uot;