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January 2, 2014

TA basketball opens 2014 against Fullington

CHULA — The calendar has turned over and the Tiftarea Academy Panthers and Lady Panthers are anxiously awaiting the continuation of their basketball seasons.

"We're ready to start the new year," said girls coach Mike Patrick.

They will get their opportunity tonight when the Fullington Academy Trojans come to town. B-team games are scheduled to start at 4 p.m. with varsity action at 6:30.

Patrick said he knows few specifics about this year's squad, but knows they will be dangerous. "They have a really good program," he said. The Lady Trojans made it to the second round of last year's Class A state tournament.

Following a tough start, Tiftarea made the most of their Christmas tournament at Tattnall Square. Tattnall defeated them Friday, but Saturday they defeated Macon Area Christian, a home-school team, by 14. The same result went in their favor Monday as they won over Mount de Sales by about the same margin.

"We're on a roll," he said. Currently 5-7, he refers to their schedule. Three of the losses have been to Tattnall Square, Terrell Academy and Westfield. The former won the title in AAA, while both Terrell and Westfield made it to the final four. Terrell was in AA. Mount de Sales was also a semifinalist.

The environment was especially good for the boys, he said. "The biggest thing was getting them used to a tournament." This was the first Christmas tourney for them in several years.

Their experiences in Macon followed a similar pattern to the Lady Panthers. Both dropped their first game Friday to Tattnall Square. Saturday, they too claimed a win over Macon Area and Monday's contest was another victory, this time over Griffin Christian.

"The boys are playing really well," said Patrick. He believes that Dan Henderson's squad can be competitive with anyone in the GISA.

After the Fullington games, they will be at Crisp Academy Monday. Their next home game is Tuesday when they face Georgia Christian in a return battle from games earlier this season. GCS has beaten each squad twice this year, but games have been close. At Valwood Dec. 13, the games were decided by a combined 8 points.

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