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Lanett sophomore Caden Story fights through contact on the way to the rim.-- Photo by Cody Estremera

Lanett second team ‘bandit group’ stepping up in playoffs

The Lanett starting five was playing well against Cornerstone to start the 1A Southeast Regional Championship, but when the bench subbed in during the second quarter, the Panthers took another step, building a big lead that Cornerstone could never overcome.

That second group is called the Bandit group. Lanett head coach Richard Carter calls them that because the group bounces around the floor, creating havoc for the Panthers’ opponent.

“My mom calls us the hit squad,” junior guard Larontavious ‘Tae-Tae’ Hurston said. “When we get in, we’re going to give up a couple of fouls, then we’re going to get in the rhythm and play defense.”

The bandit team has caused problems for most of the Panthers’ playoff opponents. They have the ability to speed the game up by forcing turnovers.

“They just wear people down. They’re scratching, clawing, stabbing, jerking and jumping,” Carter said.

The group usually comes into games at the end of the first quarter or the start of the second. They play a full-court press that has junior Seidrion Langston at the to since he is quick enough to bounce between ball-handlers.

“It really just reminds me of football because you have to keep your head on a swivel,” Langston said. “I just relate it to football and have fun with it.”

The bandit group brings the same level of intensity whenever they are on the floor together, including when they’re practicing against the starting five.

“In practice, we give them the business,” Hurston said. “They get so mad because we’re playing such great defense that they can’t score. The way we play defense on them makes them better during the game.”

While defense is the bandit group’s specialty, Carter believes that group has more scoring options than his starting five. The only problem was they started the season off slowly on offense. They played their defensive roll well, but they couldn’t find the bottom of the net.

That changed when the bandit group went to Montgomery.

“They just raised their level on offense,” Carter said. “They didn’ turn the ball over. They ran the floor well and made 3s. They did everything we expected them to do.”

Hurston is one of the players that was able to elevate his offensive game when he got to Montgomery. He has the ability to make shots from the outside, but he just hadn’t made one during the last two weeks of the season. He hit one against Cornerstone, which sent his teammates into a craze on the bench.

“I knew it was going to go in, it was just the moment it needed to be. We were up and having fun. I just hit it,” Hurston said.

The Panthers play Jacksonville Christian in Birmingham on Monday at 10:30 CT.