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Bryant, Panthers turn back McComb

Brookhaven’s Corey Bryant encountered a towering roadblockFriday night in McComb’s 6-9 center, Jackie Butler. Bryant, a 6-4senior, went around and through Butler, scoring 19 points andgrabbing 10 rebounds as the host Panthers beat McComb 58-47 inSinclair Gymnasium.

Asked how he dealt with the towering Butler, Bryant said, “I hadto take it straight at him. I kept my composure even though he wastaller. We wanted to get him in foul trouble.”

Bryant and 6-2 teammate Maurice Brown were able to get Butler infoul trouble. Brown finished with 14 points and Bryant scored 13 ofhis total in the second half, using nifty moves and putbacks in thepaint.

The Panthers overcame a 16-12 first-quarter deficit as Butlerprovided the Tigers with some intimidation, blocking 3 shots.Brookhaven went on a 10-0 run to start the second quarter and andButler was on the bench with foul trouble.

“We came out with better intensity the second half,” saidBryant. After allowing McComb to pull within 4 points, 35-31, on alayup by Jerome Landrews, Brookhaven head coach Preston Wilsoncalled a timeout to settle his team.

The Panthers responded with a 10-0 run, pushing them ahead 45-31with 1:07 left in the third frame. Two putbacks by Bryant, back toback layups by Brown and Dontae Dixon and a baseline jumper by MattFitzsimmons provided the spark.

Wilson said Bryant and his teammates play better in the secondhalf. “The third quarter has been our quarter. Bryant is acompetitor. He is not going to back down from anybody.

“Our bench, especially Dexter Middleton and Brandon Caston, both10th graders, gave us some good minutes.”

McComb (4-5) was not at full strength. McComb head coach HiltonHarrell said three of his potential starters were still playingfootball as the Tigers prepared for the Saturday night state titlegame against Clarksdale.”

“We will have a good team when we get everybody out,” saidHarrell. “Brookhaven is pretty solid., Their guard play beat ustonight.”

Butler, regarded as one of the top sophomore post players in thenation, finished with 14 points and 18 rebounds.

The victory, Brookhaven’s 11th in 12 games, was a designatednon-Division 6-4A contest. The division test will be held atMcComb, Feb. 2.

Brookhaven plays at Jackson Wingfield Tuesday night and visitsLawrence County Friday night for a division test.