Over and Out

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 24, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

TROY UNIVERSITY – The Southside Panthers had ran roughshod through the Area 4 tournament last weekend. On Thursday morning, they brought that intensity to the Trojan Arena to face a hungry pack of Jaguars from Hillcrest (Evergreen).

“If we play them again,” said Hillcrest coach Tommy Dukes, “we’ll beat them.” Or at least that’s the message his players gave him over the course of the winter workouts following last season’s first round loss to the Panthers.

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“I reminded my guys of what they said before the game,” said Dukes.

His Jaguars put their jumpers where their mouths were, en route to a 60-55 victory over the Southside Panthers in the first round of the Southeast Regional held at Troy University.

Hillcrest’s Curtis Richardson brought the fans to their feet with a two-handed dunk, but his celebrating led to a tech, which effectively erased the dunk after a pair of successful free throws from Tim Sanders and then an inside basket by Jeffery Anderson brought the Panthers back to within seven, 57-50. Jamarcus Hardy took a pass from the inside and added a triple to cut the score to four, 57-54 with under :20 left in regulation.

“They hit some early jumpers,” said

Wilbert Hamilton, coach of the Panthers. “We were expecting with their tall guys, for them to try to pound it. But they went outside and caught us inside.”

Hillcrest pushed the ever-shrinking lead back to four following a pair of free throws with :06 left on the clock.

The Panthers, who were now forced to foul, sent Cleveland Knight to the charity stripe for two. Knight sank the first of two free throws, effectively icing the game.

Southside fell 60-55 and is eliminated from competition.

“The first thing they said was that it wasn’t going to be like last year,” said Anderson in a postgame press conference. “They were more emotional than we were.”

The Panthers jumped out to an early 7-2 lead with baskets by the usual suspects, Jeffery Anderson and Jamarcus Hardy.

The Jags, however, battled back and captured the lead with a pair of triples from Cleveland Knight and Justin Holder, 8-7, with 2:03 left in the opening period.

After a traveling call gave the possession back to the Jags, Chris Hines found the bottom of the basket on a high percentage jumper and then added a triple to push Hillcrest up by six, 13-7 with under 1:00 left in the period.

Fontanno Watters stopped the Jags’ run with a pair of freebies, cutting the lead to four, 13-9.

At the end of the first period, the Jaguars were still up 13-9.

Travis Shine found range from right of the key to put the Panthers back in the game. But after a 10-0 run, the Jags were back in control, 23-12 with 4:40 to go in the half. Knight drained a three from deep to push the Jags up 26-12, forcing Hamilton to call a :30 timeout to rally his troops.

The break didn’t help the Class 4A runners from a year ago as they were greeted with a deep jumper by the Jaguars, pushing their lead to 14, 26-12 with 3:40 left before the intermission.

Hardy returned the to the floor after rolling his ankle and made his presence felt, taking a pass from Watters and putting it in the bottom of the bucket from deep. The triple ended the Jags’ run and forced them to call a timeout with 2:55 to go before the break.

The Panthers and the Jags offense stalled over the next 3:00 of the period, with Hillcrest sinking one free throw.

At the intermission, the Panthers trailed by 14, their biggest deficit in the postseason, 29-14.