The Newberry Panthers (22-6) face off against the Hawthorne Hornets (10-6) Tuesday in the boys Class 1A Regional Final.
It’s the second meeting between these two teams this postseason. In the previous meeting, Hawthorne secured a 48-47 win over Newberry in the Class 1A District 6 Championship.
“We know both teams are going to come out and play as hard as they can,” Panthers Head Coach Patrick Green said.
After losing its season opener to Chiefland in buzzer-beating fashion, the Panthers responded by winning its next nine games.
“That’s when I started to believe that we could have something special,” Green said.
It has been a well-rounded scoring effort from the Panthers this season. Senior guard Mason Smith averages 11.7 points per game, leading the team. However, freshmen guard Juwan Scippio (10.2 ppg), senior guard Brian Eastman (8.4 ppg), freshmen guard Kaleb Woods (8.4 ppg) and sophomore forward Logan McLoud (7.9 ppg) all pitch in as well.
Not only does Newberry offer a balanced scoring attack, but they also make things difficult on defense.
“They play a very challenging 3-2 zone,” Hawthorne head coach Greg Bowie said. “It seems like they have all parts of the floor covered.”
Despite a streaky regular season, Hawthorne is playing its best basketball when it matters most. After losing its last three games of the regular season, the Hornets are 3-0 this postseason and look to continue its impressive run.
The Hornets are led by standout sophomore guard CJ Ingram, who averages 21.8 points per game. Fellow sophomore guard Leland Johnson balances out the scoring with 7.5 points per game.
Coach Bowie credits his team’s chemistry and unselfishness for its success this postseason.
“This is a very unselfish team,” Bowie said. “They’re good friends on and off the floor.”
Newberry comes into the contest following a 55-41 win over Madison County while Hawthorne defeated Hilliard 59-49.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Newberry High School.