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Batesburg-Leesville High School

Panthers have strong fall season

By: Jay Hendrix

Leesville--Batesburg-Leesville High School had a wonderful fall slate of action as the Panthers won four region championships in volleyball, girls tennis and both boys and girls cross country. The football team finished third in Region 5-AA and opens the playoffs on the road at Mullins.

 

In football the Panthers finished the season 5-5 overall with a 3-2 mark in Region 5-AA play. The Panthers loses have come to some high powered teams with the five losses coming to teams with a combined 46-4 record. In conference play the Panthers lost to eventually champion Bamberg-Ehrhardt 27-21 in overtime after rallying in the second half. They also lost to 9-1 Barnwell 44-41 in a shootout that saw the Panthers dominate the first half.

 

 

Following those losses to Barnwell and Bamberg-Ehrhardt Head Coach Gary Adams stated “the kids fought hard, we just have got to find a way to finish. We have got to limit turnovers. We have had seven turnovers in the last two games. Out of those seven turnovers there have been two defensive touchdowns and that changes the momentum of the game. If we can not turn the ball over and stay away from the penalties we will be ok.” The Panthers did that in their final two conference games as they won at Silver Bluff 27-20 and at Calhoun County 48-6.

 

The Panthers, who won four straight road games in the playoffs last season to advance to the state championship, may have to do it again. As the third place finisher the Panthers head to the Pee Dee to face Mullins, 6-4 overall. If B-L wins they may get a home playoff game if there is an upset along the way but could find themselves matched up with Barnwell and Bamberg-Ehrhardt in the playoffs again. The Panthers continue to work on eliminating mistakes and have seen development in their line play which has helped with the development of running backs Tay Wilson and Jalik Oakman.

 

Quarterback Bishop Cannon now has 1,161 yards passing on the season, the second straight 1,000 yard season. That makes him just the third quarterback in school history to accomplish this and he is also just 167 yards away from tying Garrett Jones school record of 3,104 yards passing in a career.

 

The Panthers won the Region 5-AA championship in volleyball with a record of 16-2 overall and 10-0 in region play. The Panthers also accomplished a first as they advanced to the third round of the Class AA playoffs with wins over Marion and Latta. The Panthers are led by senior Lay Gates who was All-State in 2016 along with Jaylah Barr, Zoe Jackson, Roxi Rikard, Ryanne Yarbrough and Kiara Quattlebaum. Gates dominated at the net in the playoffs with eight kills against Latta. Head Coach Courtney Ingle has led the Panthers to an 18-2 region mark in her two years at the helm.

 

In cross country the girls posted a 10th place finish in the Class A/AA qualifiers, one of the best showings in school history. The boys qualified for state with a 17th place finish after not having enough runners in 2016 to qualify. The Panthers, under second year coach Kim Hendrix, have continued to show improvement as they both won the Region 5-AA championship with a home meet with over Barnwell and Bamberg-Ehrhardt. Hendrix stated “I am so proud of all of my kiddos. They have worked so hard and had this as their goal from day one.” With no seniors among the qualifying runners the future is bright for the Panthers as they return to the upper state in 2018. The top girls are Mina Shull, Cheyenne Lee and Liza Rios while the top boys are Justin Castro, Carlos Nolasco-Madrid and Dominic Bledsoe.

 

The girls tennis team also won a region championship and may have also set a new school mark with a playoff win over Johnsonville. The Panthers won the match 4-3thanks to a singles win from Caroline Bedenbaugh when the Panthers trailed 3-2 and then a doubles match with Bedenbaugh and Hannah Derrick, the Panthers number one seed. Derrick had won in singles along with Beth Ann Puryear to set the Panthers up for the come from behind win. The Panthers eventually fell to Academic Magnet in the second round of the playoffs.

 

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