In an early season match-up of highly ranked teams the Amanda Elzy Panthers, ranked No. 2 in our Magnoliapreps.com preseason rankings visited the Jaguars of Madison Central, ranked No. 5, on Tuesday night. Coming off of a big opening game win over Leflore County on Saturday the Panthers came in with the possibility of taking over the top spot in the rankings with a strong early season performance. The Jaguars, despite being highly touted in preseason polls, were looking to test themselves against an established power and possibly capture a big early season momentum and confidence building win.
The teams started off trading baskets, but with Madison holding a 9-8 lead the Panthers closed the first quarter with a 15-6 run to take a 23-15 lead after one quarter. The Panthers first quarter run was sparked by the frontline duo of Janarious Middleton and Gerald Glass, Jr. with 9 and 7 points respectively, a number of them coming off of offensive rebounds as Amanda Elzy owned the first quarter boards. Madison, meanwhile, looked nervous, as despite getting a number of good looks they struggled to score, many of their shot badly off the mark.
The second quarter started off much the same, as the Panthers took their biggest lead of the game at 19 points, 35-16; off of a breakaway dunk by Rakheem Leahman with 4:02 left in the quarter. At that point Madison seemed to get their second wind as they were able to limit the Panthers to only four points for the rest of the quarter cutting the lead to 39-23 at the half.
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The Jaguars continued their defensive awakening in the third quarter as their increased pressure seemed to rattle the Panthers. The Panthers were now the team struggling to score in the half court and turning the ball over, as they only scored four points in the quarter. Offensively the Jaguars finally found their rhythm. They started hitting their shots, dropping four three-pointers in the quarter, the final one by Chandler Milstead at the buzzer to pull the Jaguars within two at 43-41.
The Panthers seemed to regroup to start the fourth quarter, running off five quick points to open their lead back up to seven at 48-41 on a Muarice Dunlap basket at the 6:35 mark. Trailing 56-51 with 3:19 left the Jaguars went on a 10-4 run to take their first lead since 9-8 at 61-60 on a three point play by Leroy Buchannan with 1:03 left. The Jaguars were aided in their comeback by the Panthers who missed 10 free throws in the fourth quarter and had a number of turnovers against the Jaguars full court pressure. Another turnover resulted in a layup for Buchannan putting the Jaguars up three, 63-60, with 38 seconds left in the game. Elzy's Dunlap answered with 28 seconds left with a big time three-pointer from the right wing tying the score up at 63 all. After a time out Madison had the ball on their baseline with 15 seconds left but turned it over on the inbounds pass, giving Amanda Elzy a chance to get the final shot. After a time out of their own, the Panthers inbounded the ball to Leahman near halfcourt, where he was able to drive by his man and score a layup with less than a second on the clock for the win.
Amanda Elzy was led by Dunlap with 21 points and Middleton with 19. After his big first quarter Glass cooled off and finished with 11 and Leahman had 8. Madison was led by Xavian Stapleton with 15 points and Buchannan with 14, Chase Carroll scored 10 while Joniah White finished just short of a triple double with 8 points, 10 rebounds and 12 blocks.