Butler flexes muscles; McComb bashes Panthers

Published 6:00 am Monday, February 3, 2003

McCOMB – There is much more to the McComb Tigers than All-Statecenter Jackie Butler. Brookhaven’s Panthers made that discoveryFriday night as the 6-foot-10 Butler scored 17 points, grabbed 14rebounds and blocked 7 shots, leading the Tigers to a convincing64-51 triumph in a Division 6-4A showdown.

Besides Butler, the Tigers got 15 spectacular points from seniorguard D.J. Carr. Butler and Carr were both members of THE DAILYLEADER’s 2002 All-Area Basketball Team and Butler was namedMVP.

McComb head coach Hilton Harrell said his Tigers (19-5, 5-0)worked overtime on defense Friday night. “We have been focusing ondefense. We want to limit teams to under 10 points a quarter. Wehave gone to some different defenses this year.”

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The Tigers lost to Jackson Lanier in last year’s Class 4A StateTournament semifinals and Harrell has placed a premium on strongerrebounding. “Lanier killed us in rebounding. We have worked hard onit and our kids bought into it.”

McComb was minus starting guard John Thompson who Harrell said,”Busted his head in the Lawrence County game,” Tuesday night.Thompson needed stitches to close the gash.

Brookhaven (20-4, 3-2) will more than likely be seeded third inthe division tournament which starts Feb. 10, at Magnolia. ThePanthers host South Pike for a designated division game Tuesdaynight.

The Panthers got 16 points from senior guard Brandon Caston and14 from Dexter Middleton. Brookhaven’s post players accounted forjust 14 points, led by Lamar Hall’s 8 points. Jasper Hall andRodney Daniels each had 6 rebounds.

“We did a poor job on the offensive boards,” said BHS boys coachRonald Hines. “McComb played well on defense. We were averaging 70points (per game).”

On the bright side, Hines said, “Caston really stepped up for ustonight.”

Leading 28-23 at halftime, the Tigers carried a 10-point, 43-33,lead into the fourth quarter. When Butler jammed a dunk off analley-oop pass with 5:06 left to play, the Tigers led by 16 points,53-37.

“We were a little tentative with our shooting,” said Hines. “Wehad too much juking and jiving. We have to learn to take it to thehoop.”

Brookhaven was nearly shut out at the free throw line,attempting 6 and making 4, compared to McComb’s 14 of 19.