The Brandon Shingles Show delivered, as expected, Thursday night.
Shingles, perhaps the area’s most dynamic scoring guard, did exactly what he’s done for three years at West Gadsden High – score, score and score some more.
And all that scoring – 30 points, to be exact – led the Panthers to a 63-55 road victory over Leon.
“He shoots the ball so well,” Leon coach Rick Davis said. “We tried to close out on him and make him put the ball on the floor. But he was shooting so deep.
“We definitely knew he could shoot the ball coming in. It’s one of those things we have to be mindful of. When you have shooters on the court, you have to be aware of them.”
It’s going to be difficult for most teams to find a way to limit Shingles’ scoring chances. The Panthers, coached by former Shanks High (and UF star) Drew Moten, show plenty of patience in their half-court offense as they try to set up Shingles on the perimeter.
“You’ve got to credit the pass just as well as the shot,” Moten said. “Those guys were getting it to him and he was knocking down the shots.”
Leon (14-4) played without four key players, including star senior Cameron Smith who is out for the remainder of the season after tearing his ACL last month. Smith, a 6-foot-7 forward, was averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks per game.
With only eight players dressed for the game, the Lions simply ran out of gas in the fourth quarter. That’s when West Gadsden broke open a 2-point game and built a lead that stretched to as much as 11 with four minutes remaining.
Leon rallied to trim it to 56-53 with two minutes left, but consecutive turnovers and a 3-pointer from Shingles (his fourth of the night) sealed West Gadsden’s victory.
Six-foot-six forward Cedric Harper and sharp-shooting guard Marvin Biggins led Leon with 15 points each. Gerald Spivey had 14, including a breakaway layup off a steal in the fourth quarter that cut West Gadsden’s lead to three points.
West Gadsden’s Marquis Brown made his first game back from injury a memorable one, scoring 11 points and grabbing 12 rebounds to give the Panthers a physical inside presence to complement the perimeter game.
But the show belonged to Shingles, who fought through a variety of defenders and defensive strategies to lead the Panthers (14-7) to a key non-district victory. West Gadsden, a Class 1A state semifinalist last season, has played plenty of bigger classification schools so far in hopes of preparing for another playoff run.
“This is a good win for our program,” Shingles said. “This will do a lot for us.”