Panthers tested by Mooreville before division tournament

MOOREVILLE – Not everyone would want to face the top 3A team in their final game of the season, but Amory coach Rob Browning said he enjoys a test going into what will be a tough Division 1-4A tournament this week.

“It’s different but I like having a tough game before division tournament because I think we can learn things from a game that’s back and forth like this. We’re going to see it a lot next week,” Browning said.

The downside to such an intense game is the risk of injuries, and Browning said it’s a worry in a game that gave his five senior starters – Dario Robinson, Devin McIntosh, Nick Beeks, Jaylon Fair and Jailon Lowe – little time to rest.

“It’s tough because you’re so cautious of injuries. I’ve got five seniors starting, and you’re always worried about someone getting hurt,” Browning said.

Down by as many as 9 midway through the fourth quarter, the Panthers (20-6) fought back with a shot to win in the closing minutes before Kelsey Scott iced a pair of free throws to preserve the win.

Devin McIntosh’s basket as the clock expired gave Amory just a two-point loss to the Daily Journal’s No. 2 area team.

Robinson led the way with 28 points, including 14 of those in the first quarter, his second such performance of the week after scoring the same against 5A school New Hope. Fair and McIntosh were also in double figures with 11 and 10 points respectively.

Amory opens up the first round of the Division 1-4A tournament on Tuesday against Tishomingo County. The Panthers swept the Braves in both regular season games. A win will set up a semifinal matchup with Shannon tonight.

“I like where we’re at right now. I thought tonight we never quit,” Browning said. “I told them during the last timeout that I’m proud of them for that more than anything we’ve done this year. They just continued to give them everything they had and to try to get back in it. Our division is very tough, but I’m excited about getting to it. It’s what we’ve worked for all year.”