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Shields takes down Georgiana in championship

After two close meetings during the regular season, the J.F. Shields Panthers claimed the season series with a 61-52 win over Georgiana in the area championship.

The gym was packed with Panther fans from both Georgiana and Shields, and the atmosphere was electric.

The two teams came out with matching intensity, and defenses and turnovers ruled the first quarter.

Shields led 8-6 after a quarter of play, but Georgiana built a small lead in the second quarter.

Just before halftime, Shields made a run off of a number of Georgiana turnovers, but Georgiana held a 22-21 lead at the break.

In the third quarter, the pace of the game slowed and Shields started found a hole on the backside of the Georgiana defense.

With momentum clearly on Shields’ side, Jamie Williams hit a three-pointer out of a timeout to cut the lead to 52-48 in the last two minutes.

Georgiana missed several free throws that could have tied the game, but they couldn’t convert.

On the other hand, Shields converted free throw opportunities down the stretch to solidify the win.

“Free throws were the difference in the game,” said head coach Kirk Norris. “We had our opportunities, but we also had turnovers in clutch situations. Those are things that we don’t normally do.”

Georgiana finished the game 9-19 from the charity stripe, while Shields was 24-32.

The top scorer for the night for Georgiana was Williams with 21 points.

Norris also said that his team is still adjusting to the pressure of tough games.

“Their kids are used to big games,” Norris said. “They’ve played in area championships and final fours for years, but we’re still learning about these big games.”

To earn the matchup with Shields in the championship, the Panthers rolled over Frisco City 79-29.

Georgiana opened the game on a 22-0 run and didn’t let up.

Williams had 22 points in that game, while LaJordan Crittenden had 19 and Derrick Crittenden added 15.

The Panthers will now travel to McIntosh for the sub-regional game on Friday night.