Panthers rally in fourth, defeat Class 4A W.S. Neal

Published 6:39 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2018

For roughly three quarters, only a single point separated the Georgiana Panthers from their foe, the visiting W.S. Neal Eagles.

But the tide turned permanently in the end, thanks to the Panthers’ rock-solid defense that limited the Eagles, who seemed to score at will previously, to just 7 fourth-quarter points as Georgiana ran away with a 62-52 win.

In the opening minutes, the Eagles’ interior defense shut the Panthers out entirely.  But 3-pointers kept Georgiana aloft with the Eagles; a pair of 3-pointers from Jamichael Stallworth and another from Keinderus Mobley kept the Panthers narrowly ahead, though the Eagles’ own big man, Marcus Page, sank a shot of his own from beyond the arc.

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It was Christian Williams’ quick hands that broke the early stalemate with a pair of steals on consecutive Eagles possessions, both leading to buckets and the Panthers’ most comfortable lead of the first quarter.

Marvin Maddox erased the Eagles’ deficit on back-to-back possessions with quick slices through the lane in the top of the second to tie the game at 17 apiece.

Maddox and the other half of the Eagle backcourt, point guard Jacobey Hawthorne, kept up their assault on the Georgiana interior defense for the duration of the first half, racking up Georgiana fouls along the way.

Though the Panthers eventually pulled away to a 6-point lead, it diminished in the blink of an eye with another 3-pointer from Page and a last-second layup that cut the Panthers’ lead to just 1 at the half.

The flurry of 3-pointers continued well into the third quarter, with Mobley in particular becoming nearly automatic from beyond the arc.

W.S. Neal answered each 3-pointer in kind, however. A steal and subsequent dunk from Maddox electrified the Eagles’ half of the gym for the rest of the quarter.

Yet another 3-pointer from Hawthorne put W.S. Neal up by 2, though the Panthers fought back once more for a 1-point lead at the end of the third.

The back-and-forth ended in the fourth, however, as the Panther defense buckled down significantly and permanently, allowing just 2 W.S. Neal points in the first 5 minutes of the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, Mobley continued his assault from beyond the arc as the Panther lead swelled to 5, then 8, and eventually double-digits.

Martavius Payton led the Panthers with another double-double performance of 17 points and 11 rebounds, backed by 13 points from Jamichael Stallworth and 11 from Keinderus Mobley.

The Georgiana varsity girls and the B-team boys enjoyed similar success Monday with a 52-11 win and a 50-28 win respectively.

Georgiana will host Straughn Thursday, while W.S. Neal travels to Escambia County.