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BA Lady Cougars win AA

CANTON -At halftime, Brookhaven Academy’s Ancy Myers whispered aprayer and went to work. The senior forward sparked a second-halfsurge which led the Lady Cougars to a 54-40 triumph over Marvell(Ark.) in the championship finals of the Class AA StateTournament.

Myers finished with a game-high 23 points plus 16 rebounds. Shewas joined in double figures by junior center Anna Gatlin whoscored 10 of her 12 points in the second half as the Lady Cougarsovercame a 22-21 halftime deficit.

The Lady Cougars (32-3), claiming their third state tournamenttitle in four years, advance to the Overall Tournament atMississippi College in Clinton. As state champs, they receive anopening round bye. They’ll play either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Marvell (27-9) is expected to play Tuesday in the Overalltourney.

Myers scored 13 of her points in the first half. Marvell, led bysenior forward Robin Chastain, held a 22-21 lead at intermission.Chastain, a Delta State University signee, finished with 17 points,netting 8 the first half.

Asked about the big victory, Myers said, “Teamwork. Personally,I just said a prayer at halftime and asked God to help us playwell. We had to pick it up to the next level.”

Brookhaven Academy lost six seniors, five of them starters, offof last year’s state tournament team which finished runner-up toCruger-Tchula. Few people gave them much of a chance at returningto the state tournament.

Brookhaven Academy head coach Barry Gray said his young teamplayed extremely well in the second half, especially the thirdquarter when the Lady Cougars outscored Marvell 20-8.

“Our girls were so efficient on offense and defense, on bothends of the floor,” said Gray. “Mentally, our girls worked realhard.

“You know the Lord has protected this team from injury andblessed them,” Gray pointed out. He said Psalm 18:1-3 served as theteam’s motto.

After the game, the two teams knelt together at center court fora brief moment of prayer, led by Marvell coach Mike Reams.

Asked about his team’s second-half downfall, Reams said Myerswas a key to Brookhaven’s victory. “We couldn’t score and the Myerskid took the game over the second half. We didn’t have an answerfor her.”

Myers sacked two straight field goals to start the game. At thestart of the third quarter, a baseline drive by freshman guardKelli Byrd gave the Lady Cougars a 23-22 lead. Myers sank a16-footer and Gatlin dropped in back-to-back short field goals,gaining a 29-27 lead after Chastain cashed in a 3-point play.

Gatlin’s goal ignited 10-0 run. Myers sank 2 straight fieldgoals, giving her team a 33-27 lead. As the quarter wound down,Gatlin cashed in a field goal off the delay, taking a bounce passfrom Mallory Logan.

The Lady Cougars carried an 11-point, 41-30 lead into the fourthquarter. Gatlin and Myers hit back-to-back jumpers, expandingBrookhaven’s lead to 15 points, 45-30, with 6:55 left in thegame.

Brookhaven got the free throw bonus with 5:17 left in the game.After Logan scored on a putback, she tacked on 2 free throws for a17-point, 49-32 advantage.

In the final 5 minutes of the game, Gray put his whiz kittens ina delay offense. Freshman guard Lauren Smith sank a layup and added2 free throws for a 21-point, 54-33 lead with 2:04 left to play.Smith made 6 assists in the game

Davis Defense

“Angie and Leah Davis did a great job on keeping the ball out ofChastain’s hands,” said Gray. “They kept her away from thegoal.”

Leah Davis and Gatlin each had 5 rebounds.

In Saturday’s consolation game, Canton Academy beat HattiesburgPresbyterian Christian 50-43.