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Panthers pull off - come from behind - O.T. win

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By Pat Faherty

Everyone who has followed West Gadsden High School basketball knows the Panthers come out fast and pile up the points and generally control the game.
  After all, six of the varsity players were part of Quincy's Florida X-Treme team, which took the 2011 Disney Classic Championship.
  But this team also proved last week, it knows how to come from behind.
  On Dec. 23, West Gadsden, which is still ranked as the top Division 1A team in the state, hosted the Suwannee High Bulldogs from Live Oak. That team, whose 5A district includes Wakulla and Rickards, had defeated Wakulla the night before and Rickards earlier in the season.
  And as with other Panther home games, the place was packed.
  As usual West grabbed its early lead and despite Suwannee's height advantage, it was 9-0 Panthers two minutes into the first period. The Panthers continued to lead, closing the quarter 16-11, possibly their closest first period of the year.
   Then, for the first time at home this year, the Panthers were behind as Suwannee pulled ahead, 20-19 with about six minutes left in the second period. Then the Bulldogs upped it to 23-19 as the Panthers had some accuracy issues. The first half ended with Suwannee leading 31-26.
   For the third stanza West came out with a little more intensity and the teams started trading point for point with the Bulldogs obviously having the best shooters the Panthers have faced this year, except at the foul line. And Panther layups were not the automatic points they had been against some of their other rivals.
  When the period ended, Suwannee was leading 40-38.
  With six minutes left in the game, the score was tied 40-40 and Bulldog Kevarrius Hayes, at 6 feet 7 inches, was controlling the rebounds.
  With three minutes left, West trailed by one, 44-43 and it was still a one-point spread with two minutes to go and the fouls started piling up. Then it was 47-45 Bulldogs, then 48-45 with two minutes left. Then with just over  a minute to go, Suwannee pulled ahead by 6, but no one grabbed their coats. It seemed Panther Brandon Shingles was overdue for some points.
  At the 65-second mark, Suwannee was ahead 50-45 and at the free-throw line. The Bulldogs blanked that one and West picked up a quick two and a charity shots of its own. With less than a minute left, Suwannee lead 50-48 and was back on the foul line.
  It was 51-48 with 42 seconds left, when the Bulldogs picked up another foul shot making it 52-48 and as the time ran down it was West back at the foul line. Shingles made both shots and with 25 seconds left, it was 52-50 Bulldogs.
  With less than 20 seconds left, Suwannee had the ball and went into a passing mode to keep it out of Panther hands. Then the Bulldogs were back on the foul line with 15 seconds left. No one was heading for the door.
  The Bulldogs blanked, West grabbed the rebound and Panthers were breading for home when Suwannee called a timeout with 12 seconds left.
  Action restarted, the clock ran down and just as it sunk below two seconds, Shingles made the tying shot and the regular game ended tied 52-52.
  Suwannee made a free throw to pull ahead quickly in the four-minute overtime.Then Shingles(22) picked up a foul shot point. Then Panther Sidarisu Berrieum made a pair of free throws and the Panthers had the lead -- briefly -- as the Bulldogs tied it up again at 56-56 with 1:50 remaining. Then it was 58-58 with just over a minute left and No. 22 was back at the foul line. Shingles' pair put the Panthers ahead 60-58.
  With the score tied 60-60 and the entire gym standing West added a free throw line and two points. Now it was 63-60 with about 12 seconds left, Shingles was back on foul line. He put in two and that was it. West Gadsden came away with a 65-60 overtime win.
   Shingles led the Panthers with 37 points and made 12 of 15 free throws. He was named Panther Player of the Week for the third straight week.
   The come from behind, overtime win was also a fitting birthday gift for head coach Andrew Moten, who was surprised with a cake after the game.
   The Panthers were on the road this week at the Hitchcock  Basketball Challenge in Gainesville, where they lost their game of the season.
 They resume regular play on Jan. 6 with a home game against Port St. Joe.