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Derrick Mahone/Douglas County Sentinel Chapel Hill senior guard Breanna Stephens, left, runs a play for coach Chris Long during a practice earlier this week in preparation for this evening's playoff game.

Chapel Hill returns to the postseason for the first time in two seasons. The Panthers will travel to Gainesville to take on Region 7-AAAA runner-up Chestatee in a first-round playoff contest at 6 p.m. this evening.

While many of the current players don’t have any playoff experience, Panthers coach Chris Long said the team has shown any nervousness going into the playoff game.

“I feel good about the team at this point,” Long said. “They are relaxed but not too relaxed. I think they are going in and the thinking that they have nothing to prove. They know they have to just go out and play.”

Chapel Hill is 13-9 overall and 4-4 in road games this season while Chestatee is 20-7 overall and has a 9-1 home record.

Because the Panthers play in a region that requires traveling to Carrollton, Cedartown, and LaGrange, Long said playing on the road will be nothing new for his team. He said the team is disappointed that it didn’t get a chance to host a first round game, but they are excited about the challenge.

“Now we have to put everything to work that we have been practicing on,” he said. “I think we have learned a lot from our losses this season. I feel we are a better team for it. I’ve seen this team play well on the road. We just have to go and play our game.”

The Panthers are lead by its three all-region players, including region player of the year Breanna Stephens, a Louisiana-Monroe signee. Also making the all-region first team was senior guard Alexia Wallace while senior forward Kennedy Wilson was named honorable mention all-region.

In helping lead the Panthers into the state playoffs, Stephens averaged 13.5 points, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Wallace was second on th team with a 12.7 average, 3.2 rebounds per game and 2.8 assists. She also averaged 2.5 steals a game.

Wilson averaged eight points and 6.6 rebounds for the Panthers.

“We are definitely excited about the opportunity to be in the playoffs,” Wilson said. “It is a whole new season now, and we have to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Last season, Wilson played in the postseason with Douglas County High, which reached the semifinals round.

“Playing on the road is always a challenge for any team,” Wilson said. “You always have to play harder when you are on the road.”

Wallace agreed.

“The road trip is always tough,” Wallace said. “You have to play through the other team’s fans and the travel. We are excited about the opportunity and we know what is ahead for us.”

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