When you almost double your opponent in free throws and rebounds in a basketball game you can pretty much expect an easy win.
The West Gadsden Panthers did that Tuesday night when they faced visiting Northview Bratt in a FHSAA Region 2 Class 1-A play-off game in the Panther Gym.
It was anything but an easy win.
West Gadsden outlasted the hustling Chiefs team 61-54 in front of an estimated 750 fans in a game they couldn’t put away despite out rebounding the visitors 35-18 and shooting 44 free throws compared to Northview’s 23.
Missing 20 of the free throws certainly didn’t help, but each time it looked like the Panthers would pull away the Chiefs answered back to keep things close.
Both teams started the game jittery and the first quarter ended with the visitors ahead 10-6.
A pair of second quarter three-pointers by LaJarous Davis and inside work by Marquis Brown helped the Panthers claim a 28-25 lead at the half.
At the beginning of the third quarter Archie Albritton hit a trey for West Gadsden and DeVonte Gibson worked inside for a pair of baskets, and the home team broke away to a 10-point lead.
Northview would not go away.
Guard Neino Robinson floated in a pair of jumpers and hit a trey himself and at the end of the period it was still anybody’s ball game with West Gadsden holding a 42-37 lead.
The fourth quarter then turned into a march to the free throw line. The Panthers shot 26 charity shots in the quarter and the Chiefs shot 12. Eleven West Gadsden misses kept giving Northview chances before Brown, Albritton and Arlist Kenon nailed both ends of double bonus fouls to space away the win and send the Panthers to Chipley for a Friday night game and the Region 2 Finals.
Albritton with 13 points, Davis with 12 and Brown with 11 led West Gadsden which lifted its record to 18-4 with the win.
The Chiefs got 18 points from Tony McCroy and 16 from Robinson with the season-ending loss, leaving them at 19-3.