Panthers battle-tested in tournaments over the break


Shelby Foster

Junior shooting guard Wes Grant guards the ball. Starr’s Mill played well on the defensive end, defending the perimeter efficiently. However, foul trouble in the paint cost the Panthers several defensive stops.

Ty Odom, Staff Writer

The Panthers varsity boys’ basketball team got off to a rocky start during Thanksgiving break, going a combined 1-4 in three tournaments during the week.

This year was the first time that Starr’s Mill competed in the latter two tournaments, exposing the team to higher levels of competition. Throughout the break, the Panthers were matched up against teams with different styles of play, preparing them for the regular season ahead.

Shelby Foster
Junior point guard Daryl Rice calls a play against East Coweta. The Panthers ran several new plays that gave them shot opportunities on the perimeter. The new plays worked in the first quarter, but in the second quarter, the Indians were able to read and stop the Mill’s offense.

“You have to know that you can compete at a high level,” head coach Charlemagne Gibbons said. “We have to be battle-tested for region play.”

At the Keller Williams Raider Classic at North Forsyth, the Panthers played against Lakeview Academy in a close match that went down to the wire. Senior Nick Wiest and juniors Reese Clevenger and Daryl Rice led the team in scoring with 14 points each in a 56-55 loss to the Lions. Moved to the consolation bracket, the Panthers were matched up against King’s Academy. Starr’s Mill was able to pick up a 58-52 win over the Knights. This win advanced them to the consolation championship game against the Dunwoody Wildcats. The Panthers found themselves in an intense back and forth battle with Dunwoody until the fourth quarter, where they were outscored by ten points, losing to the Wildcats 69-61.

“We’ve never seen that level of competition before,” Clevenger said. “If we can play well against them, we can play well against anyone.”

Following the tournament at North Forsyth, the Panthers played against the Douglas County Tigers in the Under Armour Classic at Benjamin E. Mays High School. Starr’s Mill got off to a great start in the first quarter, scoring 16 paints to the Tigers’ five points, but were outscored by a combined 11 points in the next three quarters of play. At the end of regulation, the game was tied 52-52. The overtime period did not go well for the Mill, as they only put up two points to Douglas County’s nine. Junior Jamaine Mann led the Panthers in scoring with 23 points in the 61-54 loss.

“We need to focus on the small things,” Rice said. “Our defense is there, we just need to grab more offensive rebounds.”

After the Under Armour Classic, Starr’s Mill traveled to Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School to face the Pace Academy Knights in the Holiday Hoopsgiving tournament. The fatigue from the previous games caught up to the Panthers in the final game of the week, as they suffered their biggest loss against Pace Academy. Mann led the team in scoring once again with 14 points in the 47-37 loss to the Knights.

“We’ve gained experience,” Gibbons said. “I know [the team] is capable of being coached, so it’s just a work in progress.”

The Panthers also played against the East Coweta Indians in their first home game on Nov. 27. Starr’s Mill lost the game 83-77. Junior Wes Grant led the team in scoring with 13 points.

Starr’s Mill plays host to Sandy Creek this Friday in an evening of basketball. JV boys begin the evening at 4:30 p.m. followed by the varsity girls’ team at 6 p.m.  Varsity boys end the night with a 7:30 p.m. tip off.