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BHS tournament drew large crowd

Catching up on a few details and reviewing the BrookhavenWal-Mart Invitational Tournament. Large crowds witnessed the 3-dayround-robin tournament in Sinclair Gymnasium.

If you like to count heads, over 500 tickets were sold forFriday’s second round and 700 folks paid Saturday night. Throw inthe Saturday night comps, plus the district passes and theattendance was well over 1,000.

Brookhaven’s girls went undefeated in the tournament and beatCrystal Springs in Saturday’s finale. The Lady Panthers, coached byRonald Gill, are enjoying a great campaign, off to a 20-1start.

The Panthers almost gave Brookhaven a sweep but McComb escapedwith an overtime victory. It was an outstanding contest, featuringlots of lead changes, dunks and treys. To say the least, the crowdwas vocal, too.

The Panthers (16-4), coached by Dan Presley, produced a strongteam effort and got a game-high 31 points from juniorcenter/forward Lamar Hall. Brookhaven was minus senior guard FredMackabee, the team’s leading scorer. Mackabee injured his rightelbow in Thursday’s opening round.

Hopefully, some of the gate receipts will be used to repair thepublic address system. Announcements were barely audible. Whensomeone asked to move a vehicle, the license tag number was muffledat best. It would have been better to have had one of thecheerleaders hold up a large poster board with the tag number andthe make of the car printed upon it. And then circle the gymnasiumfloor twice.

According to BHS athletic director Andrew Hickman, Brookhavenhas made a bid to host South Mississippi Tournaments on Friday andSaturday, Feb. 22-23. Hopefully, the Panthers and Lady Pantherswill both be in that number. First of all, they have to finishfirst or second in the Division 6-4A Tournament at Port Gibson,Feb. 11-15.

Hazlehurst, Crystal Springs and McComb joined Brookhaven in theround-robin. Perhaps Brookhaven would consider inviting Prentissnext year.

For the unknowing reader, Prentiss boasts 6-9 sophomore centerAl Jefferson, one of the most talented young men this column hasever seen in a high school uniform. It would be a great matchup fornext year if Jefferson would get to play against Jackie Butler,McComb’s 6-9 junior center. That would be worth the price ofadmission and more.

Speaking of talent, the Copiah-Lincoln Community Collegedistrict is going through a dry spell this season. Usually, thereare several outstanding players from the counties of Lincoln,Lawrence, Copiah, Franklin, Adams, Simpson and Jefferson to recruitand sign. In this case, the best players are underclassmen.

The Co-Lin men’s team, off to an unusual 5-9 start this season,should be feeling the long-range effects the most. Projectedfreshman stars haven’t produced and some of the returningsophomores have been a big disappointment.

That kind of predicament will age a coach in a hurry. Co-Linmen’s coach Dennis Sims had his team in the state tournamentchampionship game last season. This time around the Wolves will belucky to finish at .500, especially with the meat of the SouthDivision schedule on the horizon.

By comparison, the Co-Lin Lady Wolves are undefeated in 14 gamesand enjoying the dividends. They are ranked No. 8 in the NJCAAnational poll.

The Lady Wolves boast a powerful inside game, led by sophomoresMindy Livaudais and Christy Brown. The perimeter is powered byfreshman sensation Tiania Burns.

Veteran Co-Lin women’s coach Gwyn Young still is looking forimprovement in of his squad. Young wants his team to play betterdefense. They also must improve their perimeter shooting to make aserious challenge for the state and regional tournamentchampionships.

Looking to the future, this is the first time for theMississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges to instituteits new recruiting rules. In basketball, six high school girls andsix high school boys from a particular district can be placed on aprotected list.

MACJC basketball coaches will be allowed to watch and recruitplayers outside of their respective districts after Feb. 15. In thecase of major population areas like the Hinds and Gulf Coastdistricts, a lot more than six talented, protected players areavailable for college level basketball.

Recruiting suddenly becomes a major tool. The coach who is ableto sell his program and sell his school to the right players,should benefit greatly from this new process. A lot of players inthe Hinds district are reluctant to sign with the school becausethe basketball campus is situated in Utica instead of Raymond. It’sa hard sell for the Hinds coaches, no matter how beautiful thegymnasium.

Congratulations to Rob McCreary and his Brookhaven Panthers forwinning another Division 6-4A soccer championship! When thePanthers beat McComb Tuesday night, it was their third straightdivision title. The win also gave McCreary his 100th victory in sixyears at the helm.