Lanett Lady Panthers defeat five-time state champs in regional semifinals

Published 10:20 pm Friday, February 17, 2023

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The Lanett varsity girls defeated Pisgah, who won the last five state championships, 69-65 on Friday in the regional semifinals in Jacksonville.

Freshman Nakeriona Heard led the Lady Panthers in scoring with 16 points.

“Any time you play a team like Pisgah, it’s a challenge,” said Lanett Head Coach Charlie Williams.

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“They taught us a lesson last year in the final four, and they taught us how to play basketball. We never forgot it. That loss stuck to us, and we pushed all summer and fall to get here because they set the bar so high.”

The first quarter was nothing but trouble for the Lady Panthers as they couldn’t stop fouling, and the Lady Eagles made seven free throws in the first quarter alone.

Both teams traded fouls and baskets, but a three from Ariel Hall tied the game up at 14 with three minutes left in the first quarter.

Pisgah responded with a 7-0 run, but five of those came from the free throw line.

Tyra Jackson added three more points for the Lady Panthers, but Pisgah still took a 23-17 lead at the end of the quarter.

The Lady Eagles continued to force Lanett to commit fouls in the second quarter as Pisgah opened with four free throws to take a 27-17 lead.

The Lady Panthers struggled to close the lead for the entire second quarter as the Lady Eagles capitalized at the free throw line.

It wasn’t until the last two minutes that the Lady Panthers gave Pisgah a taste of their own medicine by getting to the free throw line.

Lanett ended the quarter on an 8-0 run, led by Heard’s five points, to tie the game at 35 heading into halftime.

Neither team was able to create separation in the third, but Makayla Davis came off the bench to score seven in that quarter alone.

Lanett took a 51-48 lead at the end of the third, and the Lady Panthers stayed more disciplined in the fourth to hang on to the lead.

Lanett opened up the fourth quarter with layups from Davis and Heard to take to take a 55-51 lead, but the Lady Eagles wouldn’t go away.

Paisley Patalas and Ashton Childress each scored to close the Lanett lead to one, but Ariel Hall and Heard added baskets to ensure Lanett kept the lead.

Lanett had control until a minute left when Patalas hit a three to make it a 67-65 game.

Ameria Ziegler was key for Lanett in the final minute as she got to the free throw line and made it a 68-65 lead for the Lady Panthers with 49 seconds left.

Pisgah’s Campbell Barron missed a layup with 36 seconds left, and Patalas fouled Ziegler with 23 seconds left.

Ziegler missed the first free throw but hit the second to make it a two score game.

The Lady Eagles took their time on the next possession, but Barron and Campbell missed two threes to secure the victory for Lanett.

The Lady Panthers will play Ider in the regional final on Tuesday in Jacksonville.