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Just by looking at the scoreboard from Friday night's boys basketball game, it would seem like yet another lopsided loss for Fannett-Metal.

And while it was just that - Southern Fulton defeated F-M to the tune of 72-38 - it was also obvious the Tigers aren't the same ole team as last year's 5-17 squad.

"Absolutely, this team is much improved from last year," SF guard Carl Potter said. "They're gelling together really well, and I gotta say that Mikell (McGee) is a very good player. He's one of the toughest players I've ever had to guard, and Dylan (Gordon) would say the same thing. He's tough to stop, and I'm glad we played well."

One of the biggest reasons for F-M's success is McGee, who is averaging more than 25 points per game.

But an even bigger reason for the Tigers' upswing this season is McGee's surrounding cast. Lucas Wingert is averaging nearly 15 ppg, and Austin Raymer and Timber Brookens have also been big point contributors this season.

"That's been huge," F-M assistant coach Tony Brookens said. "This is a team sport, and you have to have other guys helping out, too. You can't put the load on one guy because good defenses will shut that down. That's what we're trying to work on; we're trying to get the whole team together and everybody participating."

Fannett-Metal (6-5, 3-4 SHL, 3-3 ICC) looked like it would give Southern Fulton (9-2, 5-1 SHL, 4-1 ICC) a run for its money, even though the Indians led just 22-9 after the first quarter. Defensively, F-M forced a couple of turnovers to keep the score relatively close.

"Especially on their small floor and how they spread out their zone, we have to lob all of our passes over the top," Potter said. "They were forcing us to shoot outside. If you're not shooting well, it's a tough defense to score against."

Luckily for the Indians, they shot the ball fairly well and started to run away with it. They held F-M to single digits over each of the next two quarters to lead 55-21 after the third.

"Having them on their floor with Mikell and Wingert, who can really shoot it, you have to contain," SF coach Kent Hendershot said. "We talked about that coming in - we need to come out with some intensity and desire to shut them down - we don't want this team hanging around. They develop more confidence and everybody starts shooting better."

Despite being just halfway through the season, Fannett-Metal has already surpassed its win total from a year ago with a 6-5 overall record. As of last week's District 5 Class 1A power rankings, the Tigers were sitting at No. 5, with the top six teams advancing to the postseason.

"This year, we're learning good fundamental basketball, and that's where it starts," Brookens said. "The team that we just played has awesome fundamentals. They play well as a team, they have some chemistry, and that's where we're trying to get to."

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Southern Fulton put five in double figures; Dylan Gordon led the way with 16, while Chase Varner and Mitch Potter each had 14. McGee paced Fannett-Metal with 23 points.

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