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Lady Panthers dam Crystal Springs

Juliana Wallace and her Brookhaven teammates celebrated loudlyinside the dressing room Friday night. Their reason for rejoicingwas a 61-52 victory over the Crystal Springs girls in SinclairGymnasium as Wallace dominated the backboards with 14 rebounds and14 points.

The triumph pulled Brookhaven within one victory of securing No.1 seeding in the Division 6-4A Tournament scheduled for Terry, Feb.5-9. Brookhaven (15-8, 3-0) hosts division foe Terry Tuesday nightin the final home game of the regular season.

Against Crystal Springs, the Lady Panthers forged a 15-point,42-27 lead in the third quarter. Serious foul trouble and a rash offourth quarter turnovers almost allowed the Lady Tigers to regainthe lead but they never came closer than five points in the fourthquarter. Wallace sank a baseline jumper with 5:47 left to play,giving Brookhaven a 48-41 advantage.

“I knew if we played hard, hustled and rebounded, we could beatthem,” said Wallace, a senior forward. “I tried to get our teamfired up at halftime.”

Wallace watched three of her teammates foul out of the game inthe fourth quarter. Senior forward Nikki Blakely fouled out with3:16 left to play and Brookhaven leading 52-43. Center ShamikaGilmore exited with 1:20 showing on the clock and Aneidra Stantonfouled out with 21 seconds left. Stanton had picked up here fourthpersonal with 1:08 left in the third and Brookhaven leading44-33.

Brookhaven coach Ronald Gill savored the crucial victory. “Itwas a big win for us. Crystal Springs is good. We had three playersfoul out.”

Wallace’s rebounding effort didn’t surprise Gill. “Juliana isgood at it. She will get in there and bump for a rebound.”

Blakely led the offense with 16 points. Sophomore center AyanaTillman scored 12 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Stanton netted 10points from her point guard position.

Stanton started in place of Tiffany Watkins who had been sicksince Tuesday night’s win over South Pike. Watkins played sparinglyFriday night and scored the last 2 points of the game on a pair offree throws.

Gilmore hit 3 of 4 free throws and Stanton made 4 of 8 in thelast three minutes to help preserve the win.

Crystal Springs (18-9, 4-1), coached by Mayor Hugh Webb,struggled at the free throw line, making just 12 of 30. The LadyTigers got 19 points from guard Ebony Jenkins and 11 from playmakerShawana Coleman.

The Lady Tigers were beaten badly on the backboards and neverrecovered. They were down by 15 points in the third quarter whenStanton hit a short jumper. They reduced the deficit to 5 points,46-41 when Shana Robinson hit a 16-foot jumper with 7:27 left toplay.

Seven rebounds by Antonette Herbert led the Lady Tigers on thebackboards.

Brookhaven 61, Crystal Springs 52

Crystal Springs (52) Ebony Jenkins 19, Wilson 2, Lee 9, Herbert7, Coleman 11, Moore 2.

Brookhaven (61) Nikki Blakely 16, Tillman 12, Wallace 14, T.Watkins 2, Gilmore 7, Stanton 10.

Total fouls: Crystal Springs 17. Brookhaven 21. Fouledout-Blakely, Gilmore, Stanton.

Free Throws M-A: Crystal Springs 12-30. Brookhaven 15-25.

3-point goals: Jenkins 2, Lee, Coleman.

Crystal Springs 16 5 14 17 – 52

Brookhaven 18 10 16 17 – 61