Panthers get overtime win over Pike Road after Ronnie Tucker Jr sends it to OT

Published 6:06 pm Thursday, December 21, 2023

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The Lanett Panthers came away with a miraculous win on Thursday as the Panthers topped Pike Road 61-54 in overtime. 

The game hung in the balance as Lanett carried the ball up the court with just 7.9 seconds left in regulation. Ronnie Tucker Jr. trailed behind the play waiting for an opportunity. At the last second, the ball found Tucker’s hands at the top of the key and he drilled the three-pointer to send the Panthers into overtime. 

“I really have to give credit to my assistant coach,” Lanett coach Tay McCants said. “He drew that one up in the end. Ronnie, I mean he had made some big shots at the beginning of the game when he got in. At the end, we just wanted him to trail and just see if he could hit that shot at the top of the key, which he did.” 

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Tucker finished the game with 11 points, but he did most of his work in the fourth period and in overtime. Tucker scored 10 points in the fourth period and overtime. Tucker also scored four of Lanett’s 10 points in the extra period. 

“It was real big for him to come up and give us some big-time minutes,” McCants said. “Our big man, Jeremiah [McGilberry] inside, he played a whole game. He played 32 minutes. To get him a sub here and there, that’s big for him so he can get some rest. RJ is coming on along. He’s getting his confidence up. We want him to make some big shots on the outside and bag on the inside.” 

The Panthers jumped out to an early 9-4 lead after the first period, but Pike Road completely dominated the second period. The Patriots outscored Lanett 21-9 in the quarter and held a 25-18 lead at halftime. 

The Panthers bounced back in the second half, outscoring Pike Road 33-26 in the final two periods of regulation and sent it to overtime with the game tied at 51. 

Shamar Patterson led the way for Lanett with 20 points. As a sophomore, Patterson came into the season with most expecting him to be the leader of the Panthers. Early on, Patterson has lived up to that billing. Patterson dominated the fourth period, scoring eight points. 

Nakia Bynum followed Patterson with 13 points at guard. Takembra Holloway finished with seven points at point guard. 

The Panthers have played a gauntlet of a schedule this season, with most of their games being against teams in higher classifications. 

Lanett has taken its fair share of lumps and bruises as the team works to mature and grow before area play. The win on Thursday could not have been more important at this point in the season as the Panthers go into the holiday break with momentum finally on their side. 

“I told the guys before we came out there, can this be my Christmas present?” McCants said. “We really needed a win going into the break, or it was going to be a long break. I feel good about having a win against a really good Pike Road team, 6A school. I think we’re going to build off that and get ready for the second half of the season.” 

Lanett’s identity this season has been on the defensive end. The Panthers hound the ball handler and force a lot of turnovers. 

The offense has taken longer to come around. The Panthers have been able to score in spurts, but McCants hopes to see more consistency on that side of the court moving forward. 

“We play so hard on defense man, and we make a lot of teams turn the ball over,” McCants said. “We’ve just got to make sure we put the ball in the bucket so we can feel good about ourselves and just keep playing defense.”