LILBURN -- The host Panthers have won the girls championship at the Parkview Tip-Off Classic three of the past four years. If they are to going to do it again this year, though, the Panthers will really have to earn it.
The field in the 16th annual event may be as strong at the top as it has ever been and Parkview faces two tough games ahead after easily beating Westminster 69-13 in the opening game on Thursday night.
"This tournament is loaded," Parkview coach Tony Watkins said. "It's going to be real challenge to win it."
The Panthers, who were unbeaten before losing in the state quarterfinals season, will play the winner of Saturday's game between Mill Creek and Coffee in the semifinals on Monday.
The first round continues on Saturday with Lovett -- the defending Class AA state champ -- playing St. Pius and Greater Atlanta Christian facing Douglas County. Six of the eight teams in the event made the state tournament last season.Parkview warmed up by cruising past Westminster. The Panthers used 19 players -- 14 in the first quarter -- and 10 scored.Autumn Sizemore, a freshman, hit a trio of 3-pointers and led Parkview with 13 points. Augusta State signee Marissa Mandeldove hit twice from behind the arc and scored 11, while freshman Raven Johnson scored 10.
"We may not have any great ones, but we've got a lot of good ones," Watson said. "And they are young."
Parkview forced Westminster into 16 first-quarter turnovers while jumping to a 20-4 lead and was ahead 39-6 at halftime. It was 59-11 going into the shortened fourth quarter and Westminster ended up with 36 turnovers.
Obviously, it was a rough homecoming for Wildcats coach Heather (Francoeur) Karvis, who starred for the Panthers before going on to set records at Oglethorpe University.
Vicki Harris had eight points for Parkview, Tatiana Wayne scored seven, and Appalachian State signee Mia Marshall and Makenna Pouengue each added six points. Christina Lopez led Westminster with five points.