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BA Lady Cougars seek 3rd state title

Brookhaven Academy’s Lady Cougars have a state championshiptradition. They have won two straight Class AA State Tournamenttitles and have serious designs on a third crown.

The Lady Cougars, 37-3 last season, make their debut this weekin the Lady Ram Classic at Wilkinson County Christian Academy inWoodville. They play Bowling Green Monday afternoon at 3:40.They’ll play Oak Forest on Tuesday, junior varsity at 4:55 andvarsity at 6:30. Thursday’s schedule sends them against the NatchezTrinity varsity at 6:10.

Coach Barry Gray’s Lady Cougars defeated Cruger-Tchula in lastseason’s state championship game. The Lady Cougars reached thequarterfinals of the MPSA Overall Tournament at MississippiCollege.

“We would like to win the state title again and win overall,”said Gray. “We have a strong group of seniors to lead us.”

Returning starters for the Lady Cougars are two guards, 5-4Katie Newman and 5-7 Amy Smith, and two post players, 5-10 LindsayAltman and 5-9 Lindsey Phillips. Lost to graduation was point guardKristi Moak.

Newman and Altman were both named to The Daily Leader’sAll-Lincoln County Basketball Team last year. Newman averaged 12points, 5 assists and 4 steals per game. Altman averaged 13.1points and 7.9 rebounds per game.

Newman, Altman and Smith are being recruited by severalcolleges.

This season’s state tournament will be held at Grenada Kirk.South State AA will be hosted by Brookhaven Academy.

“I’ve been coaching these seniors four and a half years,” saidGray. “They have great work habits and good attitudes.” The othertwo seniors are Alyson Lofton and Anna K. Gatlin, both 5-6.

Gray said that with realignment of Class AA, winning state willbe a lot more difficult. Silliman Institute of Clinton, La. andbasketball giant Leake Academy have dropped to Class AA.

“Canton and Cruger-Tchula return most of their starters,” saidGray. “They should be very strong.

“We could lose more games and still have a better team thisyear,” said Gray. “Our schedule is very strong.”

Gray’s assistant coach is Penny Mitchell. There are 12 playerson the varsity.

The Cougars, coached by Dale Watts and Cecil Trantham,make their debut Nov. 7, at Central Hinds. Watts is starting hisseventh year at the helm.

Last season the Cougars finished 30-6. They won theSouth State AA title and were runners-up in the state tournament.They were quarterfinalists in the Overall tourney, losing toHillcrest Christian, the eventual champion.

Four starters return for the Cougars. They are guardsBen Davis and Jake Sessums, center Paul Coker and forward TurnerHavard.

Lost to graduation were guard Chad Smith, center KyleWilliams and forwards Tatum Trantham and Alan Copelan. Smith signeda scholarship with Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Williamssigned with William Carey College.

“I feel real good about our returning group,” saidWatts. “We have some good shooters back and our game will be moreup-tempo. We have more team speed on offense anddefense.

“Our strength should be our inside game,” Watts added.Coker and Havard are 6-foot-6 and 6-5 respectively.