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Total dominance propels Forest Park to elite eight

Photo by Jerry Jackson
Forest Park junior Raven Wynn (23) attempts to drive pass Bainbridge’s Alex Carter in the Lady Panthers’ 60-32 win on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals for the third straight season.

Photo by Jerry Jackson Forest Park junior Raven Wynn (23) attempts to drive pass Bainbridge’s Alex Carter in the Lady Panthers’ 60-32 win on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals for the third straight season.

Total dominance. That’s the best way to describe the Forest Park Lady Panthers’ destruction of the Bainbridge Lady Bearcats in the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs Tuesday night at the Forest Park gym.

From the opening tip until the last second, with only a brief stumble, the Lady Panthers dictated the game’s tempo and routed Bainbridge 62-32.

Thus, the Lady Panthers (23-6) punched their ticket to the quarterfinals this coming weekend. They will play Alcovy (26-4), the state’s eighth-ranked team according to prepcountry.com, at 7 p.m. Friday at Fort Valley State University in central Georgia. Alcovy defeated Warner Robins 71-62 Tuesday.

A win at Fort Valley State would propel Forest Park into the Class AAAA final four at The Arena at Gwinnett Center next week.

Playing Bainbridge (17-12) with two starters out because of ACL injuries and two other substitutes injured, the Lady Panthers called on their deep bench for emergency assistance.

When asked how he was able to mobilize his team after those disheartening injuries, Forest Park coach Steven Cole was quick to credit regular-season experience.

“During the year we made sure our bench players got plenty of playing time,” he said. “Tonight, it paid off big time.”

Action was fast and furious during the opening moments of the game as both teams pushed the ball up court at a break-neck pace. But Forest Park’s shots were finding the net and Bainbridge’s were not. By the end of the first quarter, the Lady Panthers led 17-4.

To add to the Lady Bearcats’ misery, Forest Park won the turnover battle by a large margin. Forest Park’s defensive pressure caused a multitude of turnovers, many leading to easy baskets.

In the second quarter, Forest Park continued its onslaught and by mid-quarter had widened the margin to 14, leading 23-9.

All teams make scoring runs, and Bainbridge was no different. The Lady Bearcats closed out the second quarter with a 9-4 run, all on 3-pointers, cutting the Lady Panthers’ lead to 10 at 27-17. Ashlee Cole and Raven Wynn had 9 and 8 points, respectively, to lead the Lady Panthers.

The contingent of Bainbridge fans from the state’s southwest corner may have anticipated a continuation of the Lady Bearcats’ momentum into the third quarter, but that was not to be. With a quick 8-0 spurt, the Lady Panthers regained the momentum and carried that to a 41-19 lead by the end of the quarter.

The fourth quarter was more of the same as Forest Park’s defensive pressure silenced the Bainbridge shooters.

Wynn finished with 18 points to lead Forest Park, followed by Cole with 15.

Ri’Chana Jackson led Bainbridge with nine.