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BHS girls take title; Panthers fall in OT

Overall, the Brookhaven Lady Panthers produced one of their bestgames Saturday night in winning the Wal-Mart InvitationalTournament. Led by Chiquita Rancifer’s 12 points, the Lady Panthersdefeated Crystal Springs 51-46 in jam-packed SinclairGymnasium.

In the boys title game, McComb escaped with a narrow 78-73overtime victory as guard D.J. Carr pumped in 31 points, helpingthe Tigers avenge an earlier loss to the Brookhaven Panthers atMcComb.

The Lady Panthers (18-1)were able to overcome a30-point explosion by Crystal Springs senior guard Ebony Jenkins.They got 11 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots from juniorcenter Ayana Tillman to help beat the Lady Tigers on thebackboards.

“Overall we did a good job,” said Brookhaven girls coach RonaldGill. “We had a big crowd in here tonight and our girlsresponded.

“Quita (Rancifer) hit some big threes which got us going,” Gillcontinued. “Jenkins is a top-notch shooter and she still had herlegs in the fourth quarter.”

Rancifer sacked 3 straight treys to give Brookhaven a 34-31 leadwith 3:17 left in the third quarter. The Lady Panthers had trailedby 5 points, 26-21, at halftime.

Brookhaven increased the margin to 36-31 on Anna Autman’s jumperfrom the lane. That lead was increased to 8 points, 48-40, with3:20 left to play when Tillman hit a pair of free throws.

Jenkins, an early signee with the University of SouthernMississippi, hit 2 treys in the final minute to reduce her team’sdeficit.

Shamika Gilmore helped Brookhaven’s backboard effort with 7rebounds. She and her teammates held center Stacy Lee, the LadyTigers’ second leading scorer, to one point and 6 rebounds.

Brookhaven sparkled a the free throw line, making 18 of 20.

Crystal Springs, coached by Julia Joiner, fell to 16-6 with thesetback.

The Panthers (16-4) were able to neutralize JackieButler, McComb’s big 6-9 junior center, with early foul trouble.Butler exited with 2 personal fouls and 3:17 left in the firstquarter. He didn’t return until the second half.

Carr had 18 of his points at halftime as the teamsbattled to a 32-32 deadlock.

“D.J. is the Secret of the South,” said McComb headcoach Hilton Harrell. “He’s a great shooter.”

Brookhaven boys coach Dan Presley agreed. “Carr wasunstoppable tonight. McComb had just too muchfirepower.

“I’m proud of our boys,” Presley continued. “They havenothing to be ashamed of. They have come together as ateam.”

It was the second straight game for the Panthers to beminus senior guard Fred Mackabee, the team’s leading scorer.Mackabee injured his right elbow against Hazlehurst in Thursday’sopening round. He did not sit on the bench last night.

Brookhaven got a career-high 31 points from 6-5 juniorpost Lamar Hall. He moved outside the arc and sacked 5treys.

Butler, limited to 12 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blockedshots, made his presence felt in overtime. His putback, with 5seconds left to play, tied the game at 65-all after he missed 2free throws with 8 seconds remaining.

In the 4-minute overtime, Butler’s field goal and 2 freethrows gave McComb a 73-68 lead with 35 seconds left toplay.

Brookhaven started the overtime with 2 straightturnovers and McComb (20-3) grabbed a 69-67 lead on Tony Brinson’sjumper from the lane.

The Panthers got 18 points from Brandon Caston. They got7 rebounds from Rayshone Autman. Hall had 5 boards.

Hazlehurst 49, McComb 32

In the early game, Hazlehurst beat McComb’s girls. TheLady Indians were powered by Aeisha Collins with 15 points. JasminePatterson and Brittani Pickens each had 9 for McComb.