Natchez girls turn back Lady Panthers
Coach Mary Irving and her Natchez girls have lost only fourtimes in 28 games. The Lady Bulldogs were challenged Friday nightbut their superior quickness and shooting skills lifted them to ahard-fought 50-46 win over Brookhaven’s Lady Panthers in SinclairGymnasium.
Class 5A Natchez (24-4), unranked in the Associated Press PrepPoll, got a game-high 14 points from 5-10 junior center CrystalBrown. She also had 13 rebounds.
Most importantly, Natchez got two late steals from Kristen Westand Karmenthia Maszique to secure the victory. West finished with12 points.
Brookhaven (23-3), losing its second straight game, was hopingto avenge a Nov. 12 loss at Natchez. Brookhaven’s two senior teammembers, Ronnye Gill and Talitha Dixon, wanted to end the regularseason on a winning note. They received long-stem red roses onSenior Night.
“Natchez is good,” said Brookhaven coach Ronald Gill. “They haveguards who handle the ball and shoot it well.
“Number 34 (Brown) outmuscled us inside. She blocked some shotsand took it away from us.”
The Lady Panthers were led by reserve center Anna Autman whocollected 11 points and 9 rebounds. Playmaker Aneidra Stanton added10 points, 2 assists and 2 steals. Junior center Ayana Tillman,Brookhaven’s leading scorer, was limited to 6 points and 8rebounds.
Irving takes her talented team to the Division 4-5A Tournamentat Vicksburg this week. Providing the opposition will be Clinton,Warren Central and Vicksburg.
“I hope our girls keep it up next week,” said Irving. She hasthree seniors in her starting lineup.
“Brookhaven has a good young team,” said Irving. “Ronald does agood job coaching them.”
Gill’s girls are seeded No. 2 in the Division 6-4A Tournamentwhich tips off Tuesday at Port Gibson. The Lady Panthers play No. 7seed Raymond Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Against Natchez, the Lady Panthers trailed 26-21 at halftime andwere down 39-31 entering the fourth quarter. They had led the LadyBulldogs 14-9 at the end of the first quarter as Autman hit 3straight field goals in the last minute.
Natchez caught and passed the Lady Panthers at 20-18 when Westsacked a trey with 2:13 left in the first half. A jumper byMaszique and 2 short jumpers by Brown gave the Lady Bulldogs a5-point halftime cushion.
In the fourth quarter, Natchez forged a 10-point, 47-37 lead onWest’s jumper from 17 feet. A baseline drive by Lewis gave the LadyBulldogs a 50-39 bulge with 2:48 left to play. Treys by Stanton andChiquita Rancifer sparked a late rally.
@Bbstandings:Natchez 50, Brookhaven 46
Natchez (46) Crystal Brown 14, Lewis 6, Turner 4, West12, Maszique 9, Sylvester 7.
Brookhaven (46) Anna Autman 11, Stanton 10, Gilmore 8,Tillman 6, Rancifer 9, Watkins 3.
Total fouls: Natchez 14. Brookhaven 9. Fouledout-none.
Free Throws M-A: Natchez 2-6. Brookhaven10-12.
3-point goals: Rancifer 3, Stanton 2, West,Maszique.
11 – 50
15 – 46