Lady Panthers advance to Round of 16 with win over Ranburne

Published 10:27 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

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The Lanett varsity girls hosted the Ranburne Lady Bulldogs in the subregional round of the 2A playoffs, and the Lady Panthers stayed alive with a 62-40 win on Tuesday.

Lanett head coach Charlie Williams was pleased by his team advancing to the round of 16.

“It feels good,” Williams said.

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“You’re never going to turn down a trip to the sweet 16. Ranburne is a solid ball club. At this time of the year, it’s not going to be a 20 or 30 point game. It’s all about surviving and advancing.”

Freshman point guard Nakeriona Heard led the Lady Panthers with 25 points, and Williams was thrilled with her performance.

“She’s been playing since the seventh grade,” Williams said.

“She’s been here before. She’s almost a junior as far as playing experience. She’s just going to get better and better. I’m ready to see what the future holds for her.”

The first quarter looked like the Lady Panthers may have met their match.

Ranburne’s defense matched the intensity of Lanett’s, and the Lady Panthers quickly found themselves in foul trouble.

After trading baskets, Ameria Ziegler drew a foul at the buzzer to get three untimed free throws.

Ziegler hit two of them to give Lanett a 14-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Lady Panthers struggled on offense in the early part of the second quarter, and Ranburne took a 20-18 lead with three minutes left thanks to a basket from Aubree Anglin.

The Lady Panthers continued their full court press, and freshman Nakeriona Heard scored eight straight points at the end of the half, including a buzzer beating jumper, to give Lanett a 29-20 lead at halftime.

The Lady Panthers opened things up in the third quarter as Lanett capped off a 19-0 run with a MaKiah White basket to give the Lady Panthers a 37-22 lead.

Lanett’s defense only allowed four more points in the quarter and took a 42-26 lead.

The Lady Panthers continued their brand of full court press defense and transition offense with help from Heard’s 13 fourth quarter points.

Williams was pleased with how his girls overcame the first quarter slump.

“Once we settled in and tightened up on defense, we were fine,” Williams said.

“I knew it was going to be that way. We made our layups in the second half. We made our free throws. We completed the mission. It’s all about surviving to the next round.”

Williams will now prepare his team to travel to Jacksonville and take on Pisgah.

“We have to get comfortable,” Williams said.

“We’ll leave a little early, so we can get the feel of the gym. You just have to take your breath.”

Williams also wants to make sure his team stays composed at a neutral site.

“We need to knock down some outside shots,” Williams said.

“We have to play defense, and we can’t turn the ball over.”

The Lady Panthers will play the Lady Eagles on Friday at Jacksonville State.