AMORY – The Amory Lady Panthers were strong from beginning to end on Thursday night, dominating Mooreville for a 64-37 win for their first victory of the season.
“The girls were excited to get a home game, and they had a lot of energy on the defensive end,” Amory coach Brian Pearson said. “It helped that we had some shots go in early, and I thought we did a really good job getting the ball inside to Jhalia (Small) and establishing her. Amaya Trimble had a good night and can do a lot of big things in the open court. It was good to see her start to get confidence in what she can do.”
The Lady Panthers rolled out to a commanding 24-3 lead at the end of the first quarter. Amaya Trimble had seven of those points, while Jhalia Small contributed another six. Emma Kate Wright drained a three midway through the period, and Jatavia Smith put in the last five points of the quarter.
Small, Trimble, Wright and Amiya Robinson continued the Lady Panthers’ strong start early in the second quarter, and Kimiya Parks finished the first half with a layup after Wright’s steal at midcourt to make it 38-10.
Trimble opened the third with an easy basket and scored the Lady Panthers’ first five points of the quarter. Parks had back-to-back buckets midway through the period to stretch it to 47-15, and Sasha Burdine contributed from the line to make it 49-20 going into the fourth.
Small put in a couple of early baskets in the fourth, then the bench took over from there with Asia Ivy, Laney Howell, Jada Sims and Burdine making buckets to close out the game.
Pearson said he saw a lot of improvement since their season-opening loss at South Pontotoc.
“For us coming out of last week, our half-court possessions were bad, and we didn’t make good decisions and turned it over a lot. Tonight, a lot of our guards did a lot more pass faking and had better decision making,” Pearson said. “If you can take care of the ball and get some shots up, we have some things on the offensive end that can give some people problems. We did a good job getting to those tonight.”
Small was the leading scorer with 16 points, and Trimble was right behind with 14 points.
“We played everybody and had everyone have a chance to get in some different groups,” Pearson said. “I think this team has a chance to be really deep, and I keep telling them that some nights, it’s going to be their night, and some nights you just have to be there to pick up a teammate.”
(B) Mooreville 66, Amory 48
In a back-and-forth game, Amory held the lead early in the fourth quarter but saw Mooreville’s Javon Hadley go on a 14-0 run by himself to hand the Troopers the win.
“We really didn’t take care of the ball down the stretch,” Pearson said. “We just gave it to them. I know it hurts, and that was my talk to them. I think we’re missing chances to make plays on the defensive end and chances to make some extra effort plays whether it’s going to get an offensive rebound or meeting a pass here and there. That’s what this group has to continue to learn. We’re still growing, learning and putting some pieces together, but take nothing away from Mooreville. They’re going to win a lot of games this year.”
Drew Keeton scored first for Amory in the game, but the Troopers led by as many as five in the first. Charletson Wallace and Keeton worked to make it a tied game at the first break.
Keeton gave Amory its first lead since the opening basket when he opened the second with a pair from the line, and Isaiah Thompson added his first points of the night to make it 17-13. Mooreville went on a 9-0 run to retake the lead, and Keeton and Wallace were only able to get back to within a point three times in the second. The Troopers carried a 28-25 advantage into the locker room.
Mooreville started the third on a 6-2 run with Amory’s only points coming from Malik White to go up 34-27. Keeton and Thompson started to pull the Panthers back into the game midway through the quarter with Keeton’s three getting to within two and one from Thompson making it a one-point game a few seconds later.
The pair closed the third with back-to-back threes for a 43-41 Amory lead going into the final quarter.
Mooreville opened the fourth with a trey of their own, but Gray Thornton answered back with a three to give Amory its final lead at 46-44.
Hadley countered with his 14-0 run, which included two dunks, that put Mooreville up 58-46 at the end. Keeton ended the drought with 2:30 to go, but the Troopers finished the game on another 8-0 run.
Hadley was the game’s leading scorer with 36 points, while Keeton led Amory with 20 points. Thompson added 10 points.