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Panthers power past J.U. Blacksher to Elite 8

Georgiana senior DeQuan Crenshaw kept the J.U. Blacksher Bulldogs’ defense on their heels Thursday afternoon in a series of drives through the paint.

Georgiana senior DeQuan Crenshaw kept the J.U. Blacksher Bulldogs’ defense on their heels Thursday afternoon in a series of drives through the paint.

The Georgiana Panthers are headed back to the elite eight phase of the Dothan-hosted Alabama High School Athletic Association South Regional basketball tournament after walking away from a convincing 72-41 win over the J.U. Blacksher Bulldogs.

In traditional fashion, the Panthers’ high-powered offense paved the way to an early 10-0 run, and the Bulldogs never quite closed the gap from those opening minutes of the first quarter.

Senior Panthers Jacquez Payton and Richard Boggan were active early on both sides of the ball, dictating the pace of the first quarter and limiting the Bulldogs to low-percentage shots.

Perhaps even more frightening than the Panthers’ offense is their stifling defensive play from the inbound pass, which forced 21 Blacksher turnovers Thursday night.

A 40-18 halftime lead grew even further out of control in the third as Demarcus Rich opened the half with an open 3-pointer.

Despite the gulf between the two teams in points, Bulldogs point guard Dakota Barlow continued a relentless assault on the Georgiana defense, keeping the Panthers on their toes throughout the second half.

Though Georgiana head basketball coach Kirk Norris rested the his starters for the majority of the second half, the defensive intensity the Panthers have become known for refused to yield to the struggling Bulldogs.

Travourius Hill found a rare opening in the Panthers’ defense after converting a pick and roll into a tough fadeaway shot for 2.

With the Panthers’ sizeable lead, the game did provide ample opportunity for members of the Georgiana bench to see considerable minutes on the court, and several underclassmen stepped up with impressive performances, including sophomore Keinderus Mobley and junior DeArion Squaire.

A strong Panthers bench held firm and sustained the Georgiana lead until time became the Bulldogs’ worse enemy late in the fourth.

Richard Boggan led the Panthers with 15 points and 9 rebounds.

Nizaiah Smith also chipped in with 14 points and 8 boards.

Dakota Barlow led the Bulldogs with 10 points.

Georgiana will face A.L. Johnson Monday in a long-awaited Elite Eight rematch in the regional finals, with the winner advancing to Birmingham for the Final Four.