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The Germantown Lady Panthers from Maryland have been competing in the Deep South Classic each year for quite some time, and the results have been impressive.
“The Deep South has been a staple for us for a number of years,” said Coach Kathy Gillespie. “We’ve done a pretty good job of placing kids in college programs the last five years, and the Deep South has played a role in that success. Our kids are getting the exposure they need from the schools that they want to attend.”
The 2017 Deep South Classic will be held in Raleigh, NC from April 20-23. The event, which will feature some of the finest travel teams in the nation, will be played at the Raleigh Convention Center. There will be 20 courts in the building, keeping the entire event under one roof in downtown Raleigh.
“Having everything in one building is important for us,” noted Gillespie. “We try to treat our program like it is a family, and the coaches and the players all try to support each other during games. It’s also great that at the Deep South our younger kids get a chance to watch the older girls compete. It’s just exciting for the younger ones to be in that environment with all those coaches around, and that experience helps down the road.”
The Lady Panthers have had seven Division I scholarship players in each of the past two classes, and the exposure from the Deep South was only a small part of that achievement.
“I think we do a pretty good job for a smaller program,” Gillespie said. “We started a grade school program four years ago, and that made a big difference. We’re really starting to see that work pay off now.
“We have a lot of very good younger kids in our program now. I think the 2021 class is going to be especially strong for us.”
Among the older Lady Panthers, the quartet of Madison Hardy (5-9, SG, 2018), Jessica Mitchell (6-1, P, 2018), Brianna Crutchfield (6-2, P, 2018) and Jada Welbon (5-5, PG, 5-5) was providing leadership.
“Madison is just a cold-blooded shooter. If there is going to be a big shot taken, Madison wants to take it,” Gillespie said. “Jessica is an undersized post player, but she is strong and she has very good, high level footwork. She is a very good rebounder, and she can hit the three.
“Bri is an athletic four who is as fast as anyone on our team. She is super athletic, so she can defend almost any position on the court. Jada is fast as lightning and cat quick. She is so disruptive on the defensive ends, some teams have a tough time running their offense. On the end, Jada can use her athleticism to get to the rim, and she can shoot the three.”