Both the Yazoo County Lady Panthers and Panthers earned runner-up finishes in the Class 6-3A District tournament last week and were slated to host Columbia High School Tuesday night.
The Panthers posted a thrilling 82-77 win over St Andrews in the semifinal game before falling to Velma Jackson in the final. In similar fashion, the Lady Panthers avenged two regular season losses to the Velma Jackson Lady Falcons in the semifinals with a 50-41 victory, but fell short against Crystal Springs in the championship game.
The Wildcats of Columbia entered Tuesday night’s game with a 7-14 record while the Lady Wildcats are 9-15. If records are any indication, the going should be easy for the Panthers (17-11) and Lady Panthers (13-15) who are still riding the emotional high of their district tournament performances.
The Lady Panthers advanced to the finals against Crystal Springs thanks in large part to the play of senior guards Jordan Scott and Akiereunna Frierson. The dynamic-duo scored 20 points apiece leading the way to the win as they were the only Lady Panthers to score in the game’s final 12 minutes. Trailing 29-26 with 2:35 remaining in the third quarter, Scott scored on a pair of back-to-back to give the Lady Panthers a 30-29 lead and they never trailed again. Scott scored six of Yazoo County’s 16 fourth quarter points while Frierson scored the other 10, including a steal and break-away layup as the final buzzer sounded, sending the Yazoo County faithful into an uproar.
The boys’ game proved to be just as exciting as the girls’ game, needing an extra period to determine the victor. With the score tied at 29 at the half, St. Andrews inched ahead slightly after posting a 19-15 third quarter to take a 48-44 lead into the fourth and final quarter.
Lakevion Dixon hit a driving layup with 6:35 on the clock to tie the score at 50, but St. Andrews pulled back ahead after a pair of buckets. Minutes later, however, sharpshooter Hunter Barron nailed a three-pointer from the corner to knot the score again at 56 with less than three minutes to play. The lead would change four times down the stretch and it seemed as though the host team was going to pull out the win as they led by two, 65-63, with 5.8 seconds remaining. That was enough time, however, for Panther guard Kejuan Frierson to drive the length of the court and get to the basket. His layup attempt missed the mark, but John Lewis was there for the tip-in just before the final buzzer sounded, sending the game to the extra period.
With the game’s momentum clearly on their side, the Panthers went on to outscore the deflated Saints17-12 in the overtime period to seal the win. Dixon led the way for the Panthers with 22 points, followed by Frierson with 17, Lewis with 16 and Martarious Burrell with 13.