Blue Ridge, Georgia- The Union County Panthers (0-3) traveled to Blue Ridge to face the Fannin County Rebels (2-2) on Saturday. The last 2 games for the Panthers were canceled due to the visiting teams having COVID issues.
To begin the game, everything was going the Panthers way, going up 19-0 very very quickly, led by Junior Landon Kight, Senior Kaston Hemphill and Junior Lake Hughes. Before you knew it, the Rebels came storming back and cut the lead to 6 to end the first quarter with almost each player on the court for Fannin scoring during the 14-1 scoring run by the Rebels. The Panthers led 20-14 to end the first quarter. To begin the 2nd quarter, the Rebels would quickly tie the game at 20 within the first minute of the half. The Panthers were turning the ball over, forcing passes and playing a little anxious once the Rebels stormed back to tie the game. Both teams were playing strong defense throughout the quarter and the Panthers were starting to turn the ball over more. The Panthers were doing a great job at drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. Even as the Panthers fell behind as the Rebels were scoring quickly, the Panthers kept battling. Lake Hughes and Landon Cox made some huge shots to take the lead before the end of the half. The Panthers led 30-28 at the break.
To begin the second half, the Panthers struggled on offense due to turnovers and some costly fouls. The Panthers hit some huge threes by Sophomore Eli Underwood and Junior Austin Taylor. The whole second half was extremely physical, as it was close the whole entire half. Hughes would hit another huge three to put the Panthers ahead late in the 3rd quarter. To end the 3rd quarter the Panthers led 42-40. To begin the 4th, Junior Landon Cox had a huge steal and score. The whole fourth quarter was a defensive battle as each team knows each other very well and they all battled to the end. The Rebels took a 2 point lead with 3 minutes left to go in the 4th quarter. After both teams played great defense, the Rebels led by 1 with less than a minute remaining. The Panthers were forced to foul to make the Rebels go to the free throw line and have a chance to get the ball back and win the game. The Rebels would miss the free throw and the Panthers would call timeout at half court to draw up a play with 3 seconds remaining. Junior Caleb John would pass it to Junior Daniel Snow at the top of the paint and he would miss the game winning shot. He had it made if he just put a little bit more muscle into the shot. The Panthers fall to the Rebels 50-49 as the Panthers fall to 0-4. This was an all out battle for this young Panthers team and something they will learn from as they have played some very talented teams to start the season.