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Brookhaven boys tap Forest Hill

RAYMOND – It was not the prettiest of sights, but the BrookhavenHigh School boys basketball team made a successful debut Saturdaynight. The Panthers fought off a stubborn Forest Hill Rebels team62-54 in the Raymond High Pre-Halloween Classic.

Authoring the victory for Brookhaven head Preston Wilson andassistant Dan Presley was Corey Bryant, a 6-foot-4 senior center,with a game-high 17 points. Bryant’s relentless surge to theoffensive boards was instrumental in the win.

The Lady Panthers will make their new millennium debut tonight,along with the Panthers, as both teams travel to Copiah County totake on Hazlehurst. The varsity girls game begins at 6 p.m.followed by the varsity boys at 7:30.

The Panthers (1-0) got out of the starting gate a littlesluggish, but the defense picked up the slack; as numerous ForestHill turnovers were converted into baskets. Brookhaven led 12-9after the opening 8 minutes of play. Bryant scored 6 points in theperiod.

Forest Hill (0-1), coached by Bobby Gates, took theirfirst and only lead of the game at 14-12 on a 3-point basket by JoeLaird in the second quarter.

Brookhaven would gain a 14-12 deadlock on z basket bysophomore guard Dexter Middleton. Bryant gave the Panthers the leadfor good by hitting one-of-two free throws for a 15-14 lead.Wilson’s ballclub led 29-20 at the intermission.

Middleton finished with 8 points in a reverseroll.

The Panthers entertained a 44-37 cushion entering thefinal period. Bryant’s two free throws with 5:16 remaining on theclock, gave Brookhaven a 53-41 lead, their largest of the game atthat point.

A late surge by the Rebels was held off and for thesixth year in-a-row, the Panthers had claimed an opening gamewin.

Matt Fitzsimmons added 12 points and Maurice Brownpumped in 11 points to aid in the win for Brookhaven.

Wilson was happy to get the win, but saw room forimprovement.

“It’s always good to get that first win of the year,”said Wilson following the game. “We have got to hit our freethrows.”

Wilson was referring to his ballclub missing 19-of-37attempts from the charity stripe.

Anthony Hutton led Forest Hill with 13points.