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Clinton shines as Lady Trojans survive Lady Panthers in Leesburg; Americus-Sumter boys edge Lee

Photo by Scott Chancey

Photo by Scott Chancey

LEESBURG -- Jessica Clinton never wavered.

Even though Lee County's inside tandem of Lindsey Crawford and DaQueena Moore was in serious foul trouble, and even though Americus-Sumter had stormed back from an 11-point first-half deficit to take a lead in the third quarter.

Unconcerned, Clinton -- Lee County's junior point guard -- just kept the faith, burying three 3s in the four possessions after Americus took the lead to send the Lady Trojans to a 64-53 win, their first in Region 1A-AAAA play.

"I had faith in my team," Clinton said. "I knew we were going to be alright. I thought I needed to step up."

Clinton scored all 14 of her points in the second half, sparking an 11-0 Lee County run once the Lady Panthers had gone ahead, 39-37, after trailing nearly the entire game.

"Our strength has been team ball," Lady Trojans coach Fran McPherson said. "Jessica just took over the floor and shot the lights out of the ball."

Americus-Sumter (7-12, 0-2 Region 1A-AAAA) needed all it could get from junior guard Jayme Gilbert -- and then some. Gilbert exploded in the first half, scoring 20 of her team's 28 points, including nine in a row at one point to cut the Lee County lead to 33-28 at the half.

But Gilbert ran into foul trouble of her own, having to sit for part of the crucial fourth quarter. She finished with a game-high 27 points.

"We just really had to stay on her," Clinton said of defending Gilbert. "She was really their main player."

Crawford and Moore both fouled out in the fourth, but they already had done enough damage. Crawford finished with 17 points and seven boards, while Moore had eight points and seven boards. Chaz Tookes scored seven and recorded a team-high nine rebounds for Lee County (17-4, 1-1 Region 1A-AAAA).

Americus-Sumter also got 15 points from Mercedes Russell.

Lee travels to face Bainbridge on Friday at 7 p.m.

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AMERICUS-SUMTER BOYS 63, LEE COUNTY 58:

Panthers coach Michael Coley escaped out of the back of the Lee County High locker room Tuesday without a comment. His team did pretty much the same on the court, escaping a Trojans' fourth-quarter comeback to even its region record at 1-1.

Panthers' guard Deonte Fulks connected on three 3s in the first half and knifed through the Lee County defense for much of the night en route to a 23-point performance.

The Trojans got a monster game from Sanford Seay, who scored 25 points, having to shoulder the scoring burden with Jakoby Mallory shackled with four fouls early in the third quarter.

"If I hadn't had to sit (Mallory) the amount of time I did, I think that possibly could have made the difference," Trojans' coach Tim McPherson said.

Mallory came back in the fourth quarter and helped cut what was once an 11-point Americus lead down to two, 58-56, with 50 seconds to play. Panthers' center Kyle Champion had a huge 3-point play to put Americus (6-13, 1-1 Region 1A-AAAA) ahead for good.

Mallory finished with 10 for Lee (4-14, 0-2 Region 1A-AAAA). James Burton added 12 for the Panthers.