Friday night at Jim Young Gym in Russellville, the Lady Panthers played host to the Franklin-Simpson Lady Wildcats in a District 13 match-up. The Lady Panthers provided much excitement for the fans in attendance, but the Lady Wildcats were able to escape with the 54-47 victory in overtime.
The win was Franklin-Simpson’s first in District play and made their overall record 5-14. The loss gives the Lady Panthers a 1-2 District and 10-8 overall record.
The Lady Panthers were able to jump to a quick lead and scored the first nine points of the game. But the Lady Wildcats soon found their groove, while the Lady Panthers lost theirs and by the end of the first period the visitors had captured the lead at 12-11.
The game was close throughout and at the half Russellville had managed a 21-20 lead.
The third quarter saw much the same as the first half. Russellville’s shots were just off, while the Lady Wildcats’ hit just enough to keep close. By the end of the third, Franklin-Simpson had etched out a lead, 28-24.
The Lady Panthers took possession to start the final quarter. A couple of minutes into the quarter, Victoria Day sinks a 3-pointer and makes the score 29-27. Tough and smart defensive play kept the visitors at bay and at 4:50 to go Loreal Cheaney’s 3-pt basket gave the home team a 30-29 lead.
The lead would be short-lived. Only moments later a 3-pt basket by Franklin-Simpson was the first of eight unanswered points by the Lady Wildcats. Baskets by Devonya Bryant and Deshale Leblanc helped to get the Lady Panthers back in range. Then a big rebound on the defensive end, and a drive to the other end basket and score by Bryant put the Lady Panthers only a point behind at 39-40 with under 20 seconds to go in the game.
After a quick foul to stop the clock, and two successful free throws by the visitors, Russellville trailed 39-42 and had possession of the ball as the time ticked away. The Lady Panthers had a couple of looks and shot attempts, but none connected. It was after a miss that the ball was knocked out of bounds by a Franklin-Simpson player with only a breath left on the clock. A quick inbound pass to Cheaney and her quicker shot from outside the three-point line hit the net as the buzzer sounded. The game was tied at 42-42.
In overtime, the Lady Panthers could not get their shots to fall, while Franklin-Simpson had continued success at the free throw line. The visitors outscored the home team 12-7 in the overtime frame. Russellville took the loss, 47-54, and must continue to look for that elusive first win of the season on their home court.
Devonya Bryant led the Lady Panthers in scoring with 21. Deshale Leblanc added 11 points. Loreal Cheaney scored eight points, Lexie Day six points, and Addie Hendley one point to round out the scoring. Reagan Wilkerson and Denise Stovall also had important playing time.
Next up for the Lady Panthers is a game at home against the Region 3 Butler County Lady Bears (7-10 overall) on Tuesday night, Jan. 18. Tip-off will be at 7:30 p.m.