Lady Panthers blank LaFayette to advance to area championship
Published 9:03 pm Monday, February 6, 2023
The Lanett varsity girls hosted the LaFayette Bulldogs in the first round of the 2A area six tournament on Monday, and the Lady Panthers controlled the game from the start in their 56-17 win.
LaFayette head coach Thaddeus Tucker was disappointed to see his team’s season end that way, but he knew Lanett was going to be a tough challenge.
“We played pretty decent in the first quarter,” Tucker said.
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“After that, I don’t know what happened. Adversity kicked in, and we haven’t handled adversity well all season. We knew they were going to trap. They played to their strengths. They just overpowered us.”
Lanett head coach Charlie Williams was pleased to see his younger girls get a lot of playing time.
“We just got reps,” Williams said.
“This is my future coming up. I have four seniors who have been in the program since they were seventh graders. You have to get the other girls some playing time.”
The first quarter was a continuation of Lanett’s dominant defense as the Lady Panthers made every shot difficult while capitalizing on the opposite end.
Lanett took a quick 22-1 lead at the end of the first quarter thanks to Laila Lancaster’s six points and never looked back.
The Lady Panthers built upon their success in the second quarter by forcing bad shots on defense and being more physical in the paint on offense.
Lanett opened the second quarter on a 13-0 run thanks to five points from Tyra Jackson.
LaFayette responded with a two from Nikki Upshaw, but they couldn’t gain any momentum.
The Lady Panthers capped off the second quarter with a three from frehsman Nakeriona Heard at the buzzer.
Heard scored six straight to end the half.
Lanett eventually took a 43-8 lead at halftime, and Heard was the leading scorer in the half with 10 points.
The Lady Panthers put their backups in for the rest of the game, and LaFayette was able to have a better third quarter on defense, only allowing five points.
The fourth quarter was played with a running clock, but LaFayette’s Talia Lee hit two threes in the second half to stop the bleeding a little bit.
For Tucker, he can’t wait to have a full summer with his girls since he wasn’t hired until last fall.
“To no fault of their own, we didn’t really have time to gel together,” Tucker said.
“We didn’t have a summer. When I got there, I was still coaching football. We have to be ready. We have to get in the weight room. We have to condition. There are a lot of small things we need to work on.”
Williams want his girls to stay focused on one game at a time.
“If we take care of business every game, we’ll be in Birmingham.”
The Lady Panthers will face Horseshoe Bend on Wednesday, and Williams knows he’ll be playing a team looking for revenge.
“We just have to play to our strengths,” Williams said.
“We have to survive and advance. I want to have my starters ready for the next game. We’re in playoff mode. It’s the only mode to be in.”
The Lady Panthers have clinched a spot in the sub-regional round, but they can clinch home court advantage with a win over Horseshoe Bend on Wednesday.