Middleton nets 28; sparks BHS Panthers past Madison Central

Published 6:00 am Monday, February 3, 2003

Brookhaven stepped out of division play Saturday night to hostClass 5A member Madison Central. The Panthers and Lady Pantherssplit a varsity pair with their counterparts from Madison County atthe Sinclair Gym.

The Jaguars’ defensive pressure aided Madison Central to a 55-37win over the Brookhaven Lady Panthers.

The Panthers got a career-high 28 points, 6 rebounds and 3steals from guard Dexter Middleton as Brookhaven fought back from a22-point deficit to hand the Madison Central Jaguars a 67-60loss.

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Madison Central defeated Brookhaven 25-19 in the preliminary JVboys game.

Brookhaven hosts its final regular season game Tuesday nightagainst Division 6-4A foe South Pike. The JV boys game tips off at5 p.m., followed by the varsity girls game at 6. The varsity boysgame will begin at 7:30.

The Panthers (21-4) came out slow, trailing 15-5 at theend of the first quarter, and 35-17 at the intermission. On severaloccasions, Brookhaven trailed by as many as 22 points.

“We didn’t match up well with them in the first half,”said Brookhaven head coach Ronald Hines.

This game was a tale of two halves as Brookhaven turnedup the defensive heat in the second half.

“We ran alot of match-up zone,” addedHines.

Middleton, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, caught fire in thethird period, scoring 11 points; including a pair of treys. ThePanthers still trailed 47-40 entering the final stanza. BrandonCaston tossed in 8 of his 22 points in the period.

Middleton continued his torrid shooting in the fourth,with 13 points, sacking a perfect 7-of-7 from the charity stripe.Brookhaven gained its first advantage of the night at 50-49 on apair of free throws by Middleton, midway through the fourth period.His final 2 free throws gave the Panthers the lead for good at64-60 with less than a minute left on the clock.

“Dexter has been coming through for us in the lastseveral games,” said Hines. Middleton is averaging 18.3 points pergame over the last 4 contests.

Middleton and Lamar Hall grabbed 6 rebounds apiece toaid the Panther offensive. Caston and Middleton each had 4 assists.Rodney Daniels had 3 assists and 4 steals.

“We don’t have any experience with big leads,” saidJags’ coach Jeff Heath following the game. “There is no excuse forlosing a 22-point lead.”

Brookhaven had only 10 turnovers to Madison Central’s13. The Jags outrebounded the Panthers 30-20.

Madison Central, coached by Jeff Heath got 18 pointsfrom C.J. Jeffrey. David Long, a 6-foot-10, 270-pound center, had13 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.

“Our seniors came through for us tonight,” said Hines.He was referring the senior trio of Lamar Hall, Caston andMiddleton who combined for 56 points.

The Lady Panthers (11-15) kept pace in the opening 8minutes with an 8-8 deadlock, heading into the second period.Brookhaven had several costly turnovers in the quarter and trailed23-17 going into the halftime lockerroom.

“We have got to do a better job with our ball-handling,”said Lady Panther head coach Billy Holmes.

Brookhaven was without the services of senior centerAyana Tillman, who sprained her right ankle Friday night againstMcComb.

“We missed Ayana in the paint,” added Holmes. “She’sabout 75 percent but will play Tuesday night against SouthPike.”

Madison Central, coached by Jackie Suggett, took fulladvantage of Tillman’s absence; using a balanced scoring attack tocarry a 41-25 lead into the fourth period.

Brookhaven got an offensive spark from Mandy Vinson andChiquita Rancifer in the final 8 minutes but it was not enough toerase the 18-point deficit.

Vinson and Anna Autman led the Lady Panthers with 8points apiece. Rancifer and Kristian McCray grabbed 4 reboundsapiece. Tiffany Watkins had 5 assists. Rancifer dished out 3assists. Brianna Patton had 3 steals.

Madison Central was led by Danielle Severson with 13points.

In the JV boys game, Michael Thrasher paced Brookhavenwith 8 points. Madison Central got 6 points apiece from JeremyPacker and Jeremy Singleton.