By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Bartlett Lady Panthers came into the William Osteen Gymnasium of the Millington Lady Trojans with a mission.
The Lady Panthers were determined to leave Flag City Dec. 6 with victory. Bartlett Head Coach Lynn Whitfield knew the Lady Trojans led by Head Coach Bruce Marshall were in a similar situation.
Both squads feature a roster full of young and developing talent. Millington and Bartlett have found victories hard to come by after solid 2015-16 seasons and graduating talent like Charity Savage and Glenda Garner.
Whitfield and her Lady Panthers earned a reward in this rebuilding season with a 65-20 win over Millington featuring team play from Bartlett players like Toni Green, Ashley Payne, Kiya Sidney, Teaya Keaves and Hannah Patterson.
“We’re young,” Whitfield said. “That’s only our second win. We’re 2-4 now.
“This win does everything,” she continued. “You want to win enough in between to keep the kids really motivated. We’re very lucky. I’ve got 18 players on my team and 9 are freshmen with no seniors. So we’re very young. The last group out there for a quarter and half were all freshmen and one sophomore.”
Before the even younger Lady Panthers hit the court, Bartlett jumped ahead 20-0 in the first quarter. When Green hit a jumper midway through the opening period the score was 10-0. Then Payne added a bucket using a Euro-step move for a layup.
As the first quarter was nearing a conclusion Sidney hit a baseline jumper to make the tally 17-0. Keaves closed out the period with a three-point play putting Bartlett ahead by 20.
After baskets by Sidney and Patterson made the score 24-0, the Lady Trojans got on the board when senior Marquisha Sanders drove to the rim for a layup.
The Lady Panthers outscored Millington 15-2 the rest of the first half to lead 39-4 at halftime. The highlight during that run was a bucket by Green. The guard stole the ball and raced to the other end. Using a ball fake, she was able to lose the defender for a layup.
The Lady Trojans’ adjustments did result in 13 points in the third quarter while holding the Lady Panthers to 10 points.
Sanders got things rolling for Millington with a three-pointer. Trevona DeSouza nailed a long jumper during the stretch. And after another Sanders triple, Sky Clark drained a three-pointer.
Young Lady Panthers like Mackenzie Chandler kept pace hitting big buckets. Chandler’s three-pointer made the score 49-17 heading into the fourth quarter.
Bartlett’s future was on display with players like Molly Wood, Madelyn Angviano and LaNena Grey scoring in the second half.
“I love coaching this team because they buy in and they listen to what you’re telling them,” Whitfield said. “They work really hard and they understand because we preach ‘It’s a process.’ We tell them, ‘It’s a marathon.
“It is not a sprint,” she concluded. “It’s going to take time.’ In that process when it comes to the end of the year, we’re really going to see that around district time. Or next year we’re going to be really good. They understand that and the parents understand that. It’s a total rebuild.”