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June 18, 2014

Many successes for Tiftarea in 2013-14

TIFTON — It was a fine year of athletics for the Tiftarea Academy Panthers. A string of great individual performances and many scholarships earned led to many honors. Team sports followed with several fresh additions to the school's trophy case.

The Panthers saved the best team performance for last. Their baseball season started off with a 1-6 record, but then they caught fire. Brad Porter's squad took their second straight region championship, but were not finished there.

They swept Augusta Prep, Dominion Christian and Stratford Academy in playoff series to land in the finals. Though they finished as state runners-up to powerhouse Tattnall Square, they closed out their year on a 21-6 streak. Cade Marlowe, Rob Flick, Devin Paulk and Taylor Folsom were all named All-State by the GISA.

It was also an especially good year for Porter, who notched his 300th career win during the season.

Tiftarea finished 5th overall in the state wrestling tournament, behind the strength of of two individual state champions and a host of placers. John Adams, competing at 152 lbs., won his third straight title and was joined in the winner's circle by Zach Willis, who won at 138 lbs. Taylor Dukes was runner-up in his division and James Allen Bryant was 3rd.

Boys basketball secured a region championship in 2014, upsetting Deerfield-Windsor and Southland Academy to do so. The girls made it into state as a third seed after being on top of 3-AAA for most of their campaign. Both were dropped in the first round of the state tournament to Westminster of Augusta (boys) and Pinewood Christian (girls). Ali Rippy, Neeli Fortson, Caitlyn Albritton, Jarrett McWhorter, Flick and Ethan Mims were all named all-region.

Spring sports also saw a good run for the Panther golf team, which was 7th in the state with Caroline Griffin and Jordan Walker finishing individually in the top 20. Tennis sent a girls and boys doubles team into the state tournament: Anmol Chhina and Taylor Gray and Dukes and Mitch Layfield.

Fortson was the only female athlete to merit All-State for sporting feats. She was honored for soccer play. The Lady Panthers were nipped in the first round of state by Bulloch Academy and the boys also made it into the state tournament.

The gridiron team saw a much improved year. After consecutive one-win seasons, Ryan Branch had them seriously talking playoffs as the team went 5-6. Joseph Spinks was invited to play in the state All-Star game and was named All-State.

Joe Barkman was named head coach for softball in 2013. His young squad slipped their way into state and had four players named to the 3-AAA team (Erin Register, Lindsey Selph, Rachel Davis and McWhorter).

Austin Stripling had the best individual finish at the state track meet at Albany, coming in 5th in the 200-meter dash. He was also a member of the 4x100 team who took 5th, too. Mims, Charlie Massey and Montrel Henry made up the rest of the relay team.

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