McComb Lady Tigers use defense to defeat Brook

Published 6:00 am Monday, February 3, 2003

McCOMB – The McComb Lady Tigers wanted to shut down Brookhaven’spower post game Friday night. They got some unexpected help whenBrookhaven senior center Ayana Tillman sprained her right anklemidway through the first quarter.

Tillman’s absence and Brookhaven’s 30 turnovers helped the LadyTigers post a 42-34 triumph in the refurbished gymnasium. Itavenged a 56-51 loss Nov. 25, at Brookhaven. Most importantly, thevictory was a designated division game.

The loss also spoiled the return of BHS first-year head coachBilly Holmes to his alma mater. Holmes is a 1958 McCombgraduate.

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“We had 25-plus turnovers, 11 in the first quarter,” saidHolmes. “But I was pleased with our execution and defense. If wecan improve our turnover ratio, we have a chance at winning.”

Holmes said Tillman could miss two weeks of action because ofthe ankle injury. “We hope to get Ayana back sooner.”

The Division 6-4A Tournament tips off Feb. 10 at South Pike inMagnolia. The Lady Panthers (11-14, 1-4) will be seeded in the lowside of the bracket.

McComb (14-9, 3-2) played an aggressive zone defense andBrookhaven was unable to capitalize, missing numerous perimetershots. Senior guard Tiffany Watkins provided the most consistentshooting, hitting a pair of treys and finishing with 9 points.

“It really hurt us when we lost Ayana,” said Watkins. “We neededher rebounding.

“Anna (Autman) came off the bench and did a good job. So didShamika Gilmore,” Watkins pointed out. “McComb has a real gooddefensive team and we made a lot of turnovers.”

Autman finished with 6 rebounds and 8 points. Back-to-back shortjumpers by Autman reduced McComb’s lead to 31-30 with 6:19 left inthe game.

McComb’s Samantha Felder responded with a trey and centerJasmine Harris sacked 2 straight short jumpers, pushing the LadyTigers ahead 38-33. It offset a trey by Brookhaven’s ChiquitaRancifer.

“Defense was the key,” said McComb coach Carolyn Whitehead. “Iknew we had to stop Brookhaven’s inside game.”

Whitehead lost one of her top rebounders when Brittani Pickensbruised her right knee at the start of the fourth quarter. Pickensis the defending Class 4A state high jump champion.

“Brittani gets a lot of rebounds for us,” said Whitehead.

McComb was rebounding from a Tuesday night loss at LawrenceCounty.