When Evans sophomore guard Janay Moore took the court at Lakeside High School on Tuesday night, she had no clue what type of barn-burner she was in for.
"I didn't expect it to be that close," Moore said. "I was expecting it to be easier than that."
She had good reason to underestimate her cross-town opponents. The Lady Panthers came into the game with a 3-10 record and had lost five straight.
Despite the slide, Lakeside came out Tuesday poised for a win but fell just short in a 30-28 Lady Knight victory.
The Lady Panthers hung with Evans through the first half and trailed by only three points at halftime.
Lakeside senior Perrin Fryer opened up the second half with seven points and gave the Lady Panthers an 18-14 lead. Lakeside hung on to the advantage heading into the fourth quarter, thanks to smart execution in their half-court offense.
"Lakeside is so patient," Evans girl's basketball coach Tim Whitfield said. "They pass the ball around so much and find the open shot. We were trying to just make two passes before we shot the ball."
In the fourth quarter, Moore took the Lady Knights on her shoulders, and her deep 3-pointer with 6:15 left in the game gave Evans a 23-22 lead.
A rebound and put-back from Lakeside sophomore Alex Cassagnol gave the Lady Panthers a temporary one-point advantage with a little more than 90 seconds left in the game. Moore took the lead for the second and final time in the fourth quarter with a baseline runner with 50 seconds left to seal the win.
Though Moore was surprised at how close the final score was, Whitfield said it was no shock to him.
"The first time we played them went to overtime so it was no surprise tonight," Whitfield said.
Fryer led Lakeside in the loss with a game-high 12 points, while Moore led the Lady Knights with nine points.
After the girls game, Evans senior guard Jerome Manuel turned in a game-high 27-point performance to lead the Knights to a 75-50 win over Lakeside in the boys game.
The Evans win wasn't as easy as the score indicated.
The Knights led by one point after the first quarter of play. Lakeside senior Brandon Rose hit a jumper in the second quarter to give the Panthers a 16-15 lead.
"For 16 minutes it was a confidence booster for us," Lakeside coach Donnie Burch said.
The lead was short-lived as Manuel scored 10 of his 27 points in a third quarter that saw Evans take a 10-0 run.
"He's a ball player," Evans coach Kevin Kenny said of Manuel. "We've got a lot of weapons, and he was the man tonight."
Evans junior Brandon Durr added 16 points for the Knights' 16th win of the season.
Both Lakeside and Evans return to action Friday when the Panthers play host to Statesboro, while Evans will play at home against Effingham County.
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