By JD McCarthy for the Opelika Observer
This is the most fun Steven Davis said he has ever had as a coach.
The Smiths Station boys’ varsity head coach has enjoyed the 2021 basketball season more than any others despite the team’s struggles with COVID-19 and it is all due to his players.
“When they play hard and put in the work it is great as a coach,” he said.
It probably does not hurt that his team has a 14-1 record and has won two tournaments.
The Panthers picked up their latest win Saturday in comeback fashion, defeating Central 57-48.
After heading into halftime tied at 23 the Panthers needed a 22-point fourth quarter to complete the comeback.
“Everybody played well and was locked in the entire night,” Davis said. “Everybody stayed locked in and we fought through a lot of adversity but pulled it out in the end. I’m extremely proud of the guys for toughing it out.”
The Panthers were led by Zay Madden who played “extremely well” and had a team-high 15 points and nine rebounds.
Ahmari Peabody made just two baskets on the night but both were critical, he made a 3-pointer to give the Panther a lead in the fourth and made a layup the next time down to add on.
Tre’quan Turner came through on both ends of the floor, scoring 14 points and playing good defense throughout the game. Dre Weathers also scored 10 points and snagged six rebounds.
Donovan Pearman also filled up the box score and perfectly played the role of a “floor general,” finishing with nine points, five rebounds, four assists and five steals.
After suffering their first loss of the season to Auburn 79-56 on Jan. 12, the Panthers have bounced back with back-to-back wins and will have a chance to avenge their loss when the host Auburn on Tuesday.
Making the hot start even more impressive, the Panthers have been shut down twice due to COVID-19.
They started the season by winning the Lafayette Tip Off Tournament and raced to a perfect 12-0 record before falling to Auburn for their first loss of the season.
Making their hot start even more impressive is that they have already had to shut down due to COVID-19 twice.
The first was from Dec. 11-21 and forced the Panthers to reschedule several of their games and the Lee County Tournament, which they won before being forced to quarantine the next day on Dec. 31, just a day after winning the tournament.
The Panthers are being led by Pearman and Weathers. Pearman, the team’s point guard, just joined the 1,000-point club and is averaging 18 points a game as a senior. Weathers, a forward, is averaging 10 points and nine rebounds as a junior.
The results of their matchup with Auburn were not available at press time.