CHULA -- In a battle of the cats, it was the Tiftarea Academy Panthers and Lady Panthers taking a pair of wins from the visiting Westwood Wildcats in GISA Region 3-AA high school basketball action here Friday.

The Lady Panthers opened the night with a dominating 66-46 victory and Tiftarea boys made it a clean sweep with a second half rally that led to a 63-55 win.

The Lady Panthers used their height to their advantage working the boards on both ends of the floor.

Liz Ann Parrish led the rebounding effort with 11 while Lindsey Shiver added nine. Andrea Kelly and Lindsey Welker had eight boards each. As a team Tiftarea pulled down 48 rebounds.

Up by nine at the end of the first quarter, the Tiftarea girls fought off a brief comeback that saw Westwood pull to within five. But a tough defensive effort led to an 8-0 run and a 13-point lead. The Lady Panthers would not be challenged again.

"Our pressure defense played an important role tonight," said first year head coach Kim Czerepinski. "We started and finished the game with intense defense."

The Lady Panthers (4-1, 2-0) would eventually stretch the lead to 30, 58-28. Shiver led the Lady Panthers in scoring with 14. Macie Hood added 12 and Whitney Hedrick and Welker had 10 each.

Defense was the name of the game on the boys side as well.

"We've been preaching defense, defense, defense all year," said Tiftarea head coach Rick Ellis.

The congregation of Panthers listened as their defense kept them in the contest when the shooting went cold in the first half.

A long jumper by Michael McCard gave the Panthers a 16-15 lead with 6:30 left in the second quarter. Tiftarea would not score again until Clint Karsten hit a pair of free throws with less than a minute to play in the half. Still the Panthers went into the break only trailing 21-18.

The second half was a different story as McCard and Jonathan House took over. A 9-2 run led to a 44-36 lead at the end of the three.

Then House caught fire scoring 10 straight as the Panthers padded their lead.

"House and McCard, a couple of seniors, came to play tonight," Ellis said. House led the effort with 24 points while McCard scored 22.

The Panthers and Lady Panthers are in action again today as they host Randolph Southern. The girls tip off at 3 p.m.

The teams continue the region schedule this week with games against Valwood and Terrell Academy.

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