Lady Panthers’ season comes to an end in Jacksonville

Published 10:58 pm Friday, February 16, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Lady Panthers saw their dreams of a title run come crashing down on Friday as Lanett fell to Pisgah 58-47 in the 2A Northeast Regional. 

The Eagles came into the matchup with motivation after the Panthers eliminated them in the same round last season. Every loose ball and every opportunity seemed to mean just a little more for Pisgah as they outlasted Lanett. 

“I mean we played hard,” Lanett coach Charlie Williams said. “Pisgah was motivated. We ended their streak last year, and you could tell they came in with a sense of urgency to try to get back to the finals. Some nights are just like this.” 

Email newsletter signup

Being eliminated in the regional semifinals is a rare occurrence for the Panthers. Lanett is coming off a run of three straight final-four appearances.
The Panthers were eliminated earlier than usual but just getting to this point is a testament to what Lanett’s program has become. The Panthers dealt with several injuries to key players this season. Senior Laila Lancaster was limited in the game on Friday due to a sickness she had been battling with the week leading up to the matchup. 

“I’m extremely proud of these ladies because no one expected us to get this far this season,” Williams said. “We dealt with a lot of injuries, but I’m not going to make excuses. Injuries are a part of the game. We’ve still got to perform when it’s time to perform.”

Lancaster only played 11 minutes in the matchup as she watched the time tick away in her senior season. Lancaster finished with seven points and three rebounds. 

“She’s been with me since sixth grade,” a choked-up Williams said. “I’m going to miss her.” 

Lancaster is set to continue playing basketball at Bethune-Cookman once she graduates, but it will be hard to replace her at Lanett. 

“I just want to say my seven years at Lanett High School have been great,” Lancaster said. “I’m looking forward to going to school to play basketball and come back and seeing my team improve and have a ring.” 

Nakeriona Heard led the way for Lanett on Friday. The sophomore finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Heard hit her stride in the win over Pisgah last season, and now she’s ready to use Friday’s loss as a learning experience moving forward. 

“Just have to take the offseason more seriously and come back stronger next year,” Heard said. 

Williams credits this senior class in large part for turning this program around. One of the players that Williams has seen grow the most is Cameron Boozer. 

“If you saw Cameron Boozer in seventh grade and saw her now, oh my goodness,” Williams said. “As a coach, she’s one of the most proud girls that I’ve watched grow since the seventh grade.” 

The Panthers finish the season with a 21-5 record and an area championship. Next season, Lanett will look to build around players like Heard and Christiana Brock.