AMORY – The Amory Panthers pulled away late and secured their first victory of the season, 59-43 over Bruce, on Friday night.
“It’s good to come out on top, but I’m also glad we got to get into some tight situations and really learned from it,” Amory coach Brian Pearson said. “I told them I know I’m hard on you at times, but I want you to get over the hump and sometimes the first one is the hardest to get. Now they understand what that feeling is to win a game, and we got the monkey off our backs.”
Isaiah Thompson started off the night strong for Amory, scoring 11 points in the first to put the Panthers up 15-8. Thompson had a dunk and finished off the quarter with a three-pointer, while Malik White and Charleston Wallace also added baskets for the Panthers.
“Isaiah’s first basket wasn’t flashy or a fancy play. He went to rebound and got it up where no one else can go,” Pearson said. “I think that helps him get going early, and if we can just continue to get him to go. He definitely got us going offensively, and he battled foul trouble a little bit tonight.”
The Trojans cut that to a two-point game, opening the second with five-straight points. Drew Keeton answered them with a 5-0 run of his own to go up 20-13, and White and James Spratt continued the run with a pair from the line and a layup to push the advantage to 10.
Spratt finished with eight points off the bench in the second with his last basket putting the Panthers up 34-17. Ju’Narius Hykes, White and Wallace also contributed to the lead, but a pair of free throws by Bruce made it 34-19 at the half.
The Trojans hit a three coming out of the break to cut it to 34-22, but Wallace and Thompson answered with back-to-back buckets. Treshon Hadley got open for a layup to stretch Amory’s lead to 43-24 before a quick 6-0 run by Bruce cut it to 13. Hadley made it to the basket twice more in the third, but the Trojans countered each time to make it a 47-34 Amory lead going into the final quarter.
“Sometimes when you have a comfortable lead, you have to slow the game down and make sure you have good long possessions,” Pearson said. “The only way that team gets back in it then is if we help in the matter. We almost did for a second, but we had some guys step up, make a play and get some big stops. We played all 12 guys at some point with a lot of them contributing at different times. This team is still learning what all they can do and who can give us what. They are excited and have been working really hard, so I know this first one feels good.”
Thompson put in five early points in the fourth to start to put the game out of reach, and Shaidon McKinney added an easy basket and a free throw to go up by 14 at 55-41. Keeton and Wallace went a perfect 4 for 4 at the line in the final minutes to help secure the win.
Thompson finished as Amory’s leading scorer with 18 points.
(G) Amory 80, Bruce 51
The Lady Panthers pulled away in the final three quarters behind a night in which four starters finished in double figures to grab their second win of the season.
“We had some stretches where we lost focus and they made some plays, and I want them to understand they have a lot of pieces that can do a lot of things,” Pearson said. “They have things that will give a lot of other teams trouble if they don’t shoot themselves in the foot. They just have to continue to make smart plays. We have the ability to put a lot of them on the floor who can get loose and get to the basket. I thought they did a good job and moved the ball around well tonight.”
Back-to-back baskets by Jhalia Small and Jatavia Smith started the game off on a good note for Amory, and the Lady Panthers led by as many as nine in the first, thanks to Small and Kimiya Parks. A free throw by Amaya Trimble made it 18-10 at the end of the quarter.
Smith notched the first five points of the second to push the lead to double digits at 23-10, but Bruce answered with back-to-back baskets. Laney Howell hit a pair from the free-throw line to go back up by 11, and that started a 14-3 run that made it a 20-point game. Jada Sims, Smith, Trimble, Small and Parks all aided in the run.
Bruce made it a 16-point game before Trimble finished off the first half making 3 of 4 from the line to get it back to 20, 43-23, at the half.
The Lady Panthers came out hot in the third, going on a 10-0 run with Small, Trimble, Emma Kate Wright and Parks all scoring.
After Bruce ended the run, Parks pushed the advantage out to 30 again and scored six of Amory’s next eight points. Sims hit a three, and Small and Howell scored from the line to go ahead 66-39 at the end of the third.
The Lady Trojans opened the fourth with back-to-back buckets, but Trimble got the momentum back Amory’s way by draining a three. The lead only shrunk to as few as 19 as Trimble, Wright, Sims and Sasha Burdine helped ice the win in the final quarter.
Trimble led four Lady Panthers in double figures with her 16 points. Parks finished with 15, while Smith and Small each added 14 and 13 points respectively.