CHULA -- The Tiftarea Academy Lady Panthers basketball team got back to .500 with 56-44 win over the Lady Patriots of Randolph-Southern in GISA action here Saturday afternoon.
The troubles continued, however, for the Panthers as they lost another close one, 61-60, when Southern's Taylor Roland found the hoop with just two seconds to play in the game.
The 5-5 Lady Panthers were led by senior Macie Hood who finished the day with 24 points including a 10-of-13 performance at the free throw line.
"We did an excellent job at the free throw line today," said head coach Kim Czerepinski as the Tiftarea team was 16-23 from the line.
"That wins the ball game for us."
That and a steadily improving passing game.
"We've worked hard on swinging the ball around the perimeter, making the defense adjust," Czerepinski said.
After a tightly contested first quarter, the Lady Panthers stretched the 16-15 lead to seven at the break. Leading 41-35 at the end of three periods of play, Tiftarea took complete control when Caroline Coarsey scored on a steal before Hood reeled off five straight.
Coarsey finished the day with 13 points. Maegan Czerepinski scored eight points that included two three-pointers. The point guard has scored 10 three-pointers this season.
On several occasions during the evening the Panthers enjoyed decent leads, but were never able to get comfortable. They led the visitors by four, 18-14, at the end of the first quarter before Randolph-Southern came back to tie the score at 29 at the half.
Tiftarea clung to a 44-41 lead after three and eventually stretched the lead to eight, 54-46, with less than five minutes to play in the game.
But then the Panthers went cold while the Patriots began to come on strong. Chad Yoder began the rally with a three-pointer at the 3:26 mark. That was followed by buckets by Tray Jackson and Micheal Gonsolus. Jackson would lead all scorers 17 points.
Two free throws by Dale Boyett and a basket by Josh Callaway after he stole the ball from Jeffrey Drawdy knotted the game at 57 with just over a minute remaining. Drawdy then redeemed himself with a driving layup and free-throw for the go-ahead points.
Southern battled back pulling to within one with a pair of Boyett free throws, setting up the dramatic finish.
"Of the six games we've lost this season, we've been ahead in four of them with less than two minutes to go in the game," said Tiftarea head coach Ricky Ellis.
Garrett Bowen was the Panthers' leading scorer with 15. Shaun Waters scored 13, Drawdy had 12 and Bryan Ellis added 11.
The Panthers and Lady Panthers continue region play Tuesday as they host Southwest Georgia Academy. The Lady Panthers tip off at 6:30.
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Joseph "Scott" Lindsey, 56, of the West Berrien Community passed away Saturday, November 21, 2020, at Memorial Satilla Health in Waycross. Arrangements are incomplete and will be announced later by Bowen-Donaldson Home for Funerals.