Lanett subdues Horseshoe Bend to advance to area title game against LaFayette
Published 10:12 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2023
The Lanett Panthers traveled to LaFayette to face the Horseshoe Bend Generals in the area tournament, and Lanett’s speed proved to be too much in the Panthers’ 54-45 win over the Generals.
Lanett head coach Tay McCants knew the first quarter was rough, but he was pleased with how his team responded.
“We just started applying pressure with our full court defense,” McCants said.
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“Horseshoe Bend has a great team this year. They have some great guys, and they’re only going to get better. They did a great job punching us in the mouth first, but our full court press gave them issues.”
The first quarter looked like it was going to be a difficult task for the Panthers as Horseshoe Bend’s Klark James couldn’t miss from the perimeter.
Lanett found itselves in a 12-4 hole early on, but eight first half points in the paint from RJ Tucker helped the Panthers close the lead.
The Generals went up 14-10 at the end of the first quarter, but Lanett’s defense locked down Horseshoe Bend in the second.
The Panthers took their first lead of the quarter at 15-14 thanks to a basket from Tekembra Halloway, and Lanett capped off the 7-0 run with a basket from Elijah Whitfield.
The Panthers continued to be fast on defense and shut down the Generals’ shooters.
Lanett took a 27-19 lead at the half as Whitfield and Jr. Bynum started to open up the scoring with a combined 11 points in the first half.
Lanett also got some help as the Generals tipped in a missed Panthers layup at the buzzer to give Lanett two free points.
The Panthers fought the entire second half to hold the lead, but Lanett once again did a good job of flying to the ball on defense and winning in the transition game.
The third quarter belonged to Jarrious Goodman, who had scored seven of his 16 points and was a force on the offensive boards.
The Panthers took a 40-32 lead at the end of the third quarter despite Carter Poe hitting a buzzer beating three to close the Lanett lead.
Horseshoe Bend was able to keep it within nine for some of the fourth quarter, but Goodman continued to dominate in the paint scoring another seven in the quarter.
McCants explained how his team slowed down James.
“We just found him on the defensive end,” McCants said.
“Some of their other guys started making shots. Number five [Braxton Wilson] is a freshman, and he made some shots. We just slowed them down and made everyone else make some plays.”
One of the players McCants was pleased with is RJ Tucker, who was a force in the interior.
“He did well rebounding and finishing on the glass,” McCants said.
“We always knew he was going to be a good guy in the future, but he stepped up and took on a big role for us. He stepped up when our other big guy got in foul trouble tonight. I’m proud of him.”
McCants feels like his team’s speed gives them an advantage against any team that can shoot well from the perimeter.
“If we can just close out hard and contain, we’ll be good,” McCants said.
“I think we sometimes get lackadaisical on defense and don’t close out hard.”
The Panthers will return to LaFayette on Thursday to face the Bulldogs, who will be looking for revenge after Lanett’s double overtime win earlier this season.
“We have to go back to the drawing board and do what we’ve been doing,” McCants said.
“We have a lot of film on them. They know what we’re going to do. It just comes down to who’s going to play the hardest.”
The Panthers have also clinched a spot in the sub-regional round, and the Panthers will fight for home court advantage.
“It’s big,” McCants said. “It gives my guys a guaranteed two more games. We’re going to win Thursday. We’re going to be ready to play. My team wants to win. People are counting us out.”