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Panthers Silence Screaming Eagles


Derek Murphy (#4), Sesan Russell (#25), and Trey Schaneville (#3) played a big part in the Panthers win on Friday. Donny Rieber Jr | Sports Lowdown

A 20-5 run to start the second half put Florida Tech on cruise control, as they routed the Toccoa Falls Screaming Eagles 86-53, in the nightcap of the Florida-Georgia Winter Classic on Friday at the Clemente Center.

“We needed a bounce-back like that after a tough game at Barry,” said Panthers coach Billy Mims. “We struggled throughout the night down there offensively. Tonight, I wanted to see us getting it going offensively. The only thing I was disappointed in was I didn’t think we shot the three very well. We were 7-of-25.”

The Panthers had four players in double figures, led by Derek Murphy’s 21 points to go along with nine rebounds. Sesan Russell had 16, while Antonis Pefanis and Runako Ziegler each had 11. Pefanis finished with a double-double, pulling down 10 rebounds. Trey Schaneville and Mekhii Noble just missed adding their names to the double figures list, contributing nine apiece.

The Panthers started the game with a seven-point run and never looked back. They held Toccoa Falls to 30 first-half points and 23 second-half points.

“I thought we defended really well,” Mims said. “They’re a really good shooting perimeter firepower team and we played virtually the whole game man-to-man tonight. I challenged our guys to keep the ball in front of them and contain dribble penetration, I thought we did a pretty good job of that.”

Quinton Brown’s three did get the Screaming Eagles to within two, 11-9, but another 7-0 run made it 18-9. The Panthers kept their distance from there, leading by 15 at the break.

Florida Tech poured it on in the second half, as Toccoa Falls got a basket a minute and a half in and did not score again for 5:01. At that time, the Panthers had a 16-point run that rolled the score to 63-32.

The Panthers pulled back a bit from there, though they did reel off six straight points at one point, just having their way with the team from North Georgia.

The Panthers won the battle of the glass 51-39 and had a season-low seven turnovers. They shot 47.9 percent (34-for-71) from the field while holding the screaming Eagles to 33.3 percent (22-of-66). The Panthers also got 35 points off their bench, which Mims was pleased with as well.

For more info: Florida Tech @ Toccoa Falls Box Score

The Panthers wrap up things up Saturday night with a game against Thomas. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.

“Thomas has a pretty good post game and has some big guys inside,” said Mims. “They are a dangerous team and I think we are gonna have to play better tomorrow than we did tonight if we wanna come away with two wins in this Florida-Georgia Winter Classic.”