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Fitzsimmons sparks Brook over Lawrence Co. in OT

Brookhaven guard Matt Fitzsimmons watched a near-capacity crowdbegin heading for the exits when Lawrence County held a 9-point,61-52 lead with 1:47 left in the game. Instead of throwing in thetowel Fitzsimmons and his Panther teammates rallied for a thrilling68-66 overtime victory Friday night in Sinclair Gymnasium.

Fitzsimmons scored 17 of his game-high 21 points in the fourthquarter, including three treys. His jumper over a trio of Cougardefenders gained Brookhaven a 66-66 deadlock with seven secondsleft in regulation.

“When the fans started leaving, it motivated me,” saidFitzsimmons. “I knew I had to take control at the end.”

In the 4-minute overtime, Brookhaven got the winning points fromguard Dexter Middleton when he sacked a 15-footer with 3:41 left onthe clock. Lawrence County’s Steve Atterberry missed a pair of freethrows with 1:55 left in the game. The Cougars turned the ball overwith 9 seconds left, losing their last chance at a tying fieldgoal. BHS students and fans poured onto the floor to celebrate thecomeback win.

“We kept battling,” said Fitzsimmons. “Our defense reallystepped it up at the end of the game.”

Brookhaven raised its record to 19-4 as the Panthers avenged a74-55 loss at Monticello, Dec. 8. The Cougars, ranked No. 11 in thelatest Associated Press Prep Poll, fell to 18-3.

The Panthers overcame a cold first half when they fell behind33-21. They made just 1 of 10 free throws before halftime and just8 of 26 for the game.

“Matt raised his game to a higher level at the end,” saidBrookhaven coach Preston Wilson. “We kept battling andfighting.”

Brookhaven also overcame the loss of point guard Dontae Dixonwho was in early foul trouble. Dixon fouled out with 4:22 left inthe game and the Panthers trailing 54-47.

“When Dontae fouled out, we were in trouble,” said Wilson. “Welet Matt and Fred (Mackabee) take care of the ball.”

Brookhaven backup point guard Brandon Caston damaged a fronttooth when he was diving for a loose basketball. He left the gamewith 4:48 left in the second quarter and was taken to the hospitalfor closer examination.

The Panthers battle back and gained a 40-40 deadlock at the endof the third quarter when Middleton pumped in a buzzer-beating treyfrom 23 feet.

2 The Cougars led by as much as 7 points, 48-41, early in thefourth quarter. Jerry Sims hit a trey, Dairius Starks nailed an18-footer and Atterberry bagged a pair of free throws with 6:20left to play. The Cougars missed 3 of 4 free shots in the last 33seconds of the game.

Coach Bobby Lee’s Cougars got 17 points from Starks. Nick Mikelladded 14 points. Atterberry and Tim Horton had 7 rebounds apiece.Horton also had 5 steals and 4 assists.

The Panthers got 14 points from post Maurice Brown and 11 fromMiddleton. On the backboards, senior center Cory Bryant led the waywith 9 rebounds but was limited to 4 points.

In the JV game, Brookhaven beat Lawrence County 49-30,led by Chad Levi and Caston with 10 points each. The Cougars got 8points from Bryant Wells.

Brookhaven 68, Lawrence County 66, OT

Lawrence Co. (66) Darius Starks 17, Mikell 14,Atterberry 9, Johnson 11, Bridges 2, Horton 7, Sims 6.

Brookhaven (68) Matt Fitzsimmons 21, Bryant 4, Dixon 4,Mackabee 8, Brown 14, Washington 4, Middleton 11, Hall2.

Total fouls: Lawrence 21. Brookhaven 25. Fouledout-Dixon, Mikell, Brown.

Free Throws M-A: Lawrence 21-33. Brookhaven8-26.

3-point goals: Fitzsimmons 3, Starks 2, Sims 2, Mikell,Middleton.

Lawrence Co. 16 17 7 26 0 – 66

Brookhaven 11 10 19 26 2 – 68

JV BOYS

Brookhaven 49, Lawrence County 30

Lawrence Co. (30) Bryant Wells 8, London 8, Rhodes 4,Eley 4, Snell 3, Sullivan 3, Mikell 2, Barnes 2.

Brookhaven (49) Chad Levi 10, Brandon Caston 10, Allen3, Middleton 7, Flintroy 5, Eley 4, Dickey 2, Hall 2, Poole2.