Palm Bay savors first boys basketball victory

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The buzzer has sounded on North Bay Haven's Beach Bash, 41 boys and girls high school hoops teams from six states competing Thursday through Saturday.

One of the highlights came in the first game: the first win ever for Panama City's Palm Bay Prep Academy, 40-34 over North Bay Haven's J.V. team.

12 points from Adin Hernandez, 11 from Nathaniel Rhodes, and 6 from Juan Lage lifted the Panthers to victory after being tied at 18 at the break.

This is Palm Bay's second season of competition. For those who have been there since the beginning, the result is as sweet as can be.

"Some of them weren't here last year and they were like, 'what are we getting ourselves into,'" sophomore Aaron Jones recalled. "But we're like a family. We're a big family."

"They don't understand what it was like to travel all last year and come away from games losing by 20 points or more sometimes," head coach Kurtis Priemer added. "This first win for the older boys, it kind of got the chip off their shoulder and now they can relax."

Now it's back on the road for the Panthers—literally.

Their gym was destroyed in Hurricane Michael, one week before tryouts for the first season. They still practice in a parking lot and play all games on the road.

The first victory comes in what's essentially their only hometown game.

"We've been playing like hour away games so it's kind of hard and our cheerleaders weren't able to go to the games," freshman Danya Cherry said. "It wasn't really a lot of people so we didn't have that much support as well. It felt good to hear our cheerleaders out there. Win the ball, get the defense, all that, it felt real good."

The Panthers (1-4) continue their season January 13th at Calvary Christian in Fort Walton Beach.

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