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Rams ruin festivities

Francis Marion spoiled Southside’s senior night with a 44-31 win on Friday.

The Panthers were off balance all night, missing layups on most of their fast break opportunities. It seemed a Francis Marion defender was perfectly positioned any time a Panther raced down the court. Most of Southside’s possessions ended in free throw attempts, awkward shots or flat out misses.

“They missed a lot of layups in transition,” said Francis Marion coach Michael Bedell. “They had opportunities to come back and take the lead, and we were just thankful that we were able to force them to miss a layup.”

The Southside loss forced a tie with area foe Livingston, and now the area tournament’s location will be determined by a coin flip.

“It never should’ve been that close,” said Southside coach Wanda Tyler. “Our seniors didn’t step up to the plate.”

The Panthers (17-7) got off to the start they wanted, taking an early 9-2 lead. But the Rams took control with a 9-0 run capped by a Tamera Sawyer 3-pointer to take a 19-15 lead into the half.

The second half held no reversal of fortune as Southside could not capitalize on a plethora of opportunities. The Panthers held the Rams (6-10) to five third-quarter points, but could not finish on six fast break chances.

A Regina Bartholomew layup tied the game at 28 with 6:07 left. But the Panthers’ inability to finish prevented them from taking the lead on two ensuing possessions.

Jasmine Morton hit a layup to put the Rams back on top and spark a 10-1 run to put Francis Marion ahead for good.

With the win, the Rams broke a four-game losing streak and avenged two earlier losses to the Panthers.

Morton led Francis Marion with 15 points, and Khadijah Bates added 10.

Shaniqua Williams paced Southside with 13, and Regina Bartholomew finished with 11.