Brookhaven Academy teams roar in South State

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, February 12, 2003

RAYMOND – Resembling a gigantic, royal blue tidal wave, theBrookhaven Academy basketball teams swept through the opening roundof the MPSA South State AA Tournament Tuesday night in the CentralHinds Academy gymnasium. The Lady Cougars crushed Prairie View(La.) 62-26 and the Cougars trampled East Rankin Academy 76-26.

The victories advance both Brookhaven teams to Friday’ssemifinals. The Lady Cougars (34-1) play Centreville at 2:30 andthe Cougars (27-0) play Prairie View at 7:30. Win or lose, they’llplay again Saturday, either in the consolation or championshipgames.

Girls finals are Saturday at 1 (consolation) and 2:30(championship). Boys finals are 6 (consolation) and 7:30(championship).

In yesterday’s other games, Centreville eliminated the EastRankin girls 61-35 and Prairie View whipped the Bowling Green boys79-67.

The Lady Cougars, defending Class AA statechampions, guaranteed themselves of a berth in next week’s statetournament which will be held in BA’s John R. Gray Gymnasium.Senior center Anna Gatlin scored 12 points last night and said shewas happy about the opportunity to play at home next week.

“We will be back in our own gym and we are excited about playingthere,” said Gatlin. “We are taking it one game at a time.

“We have been blessed as a team and we have a great coach (BarryGray),” she continued. “We are a close team and the Lord hasblessed us.”

Gatlin hit a short jumper to end the third quarter, giving theLady Cougars a 53-22 advantage. She was joined in doubled figuresby guard Kelli Byrd and forward Abby Williams with 12 and 11 pointsrespectively.

Jessie Altman led BA’s rebounding effort with 8 caroms. GuardLauren Smith contributed 9 assists and 7 steals to the victory.Byrd had 8 assists and Williams 4.

“I was pleased by the way we ran the fastbreak,” said CoachGray. “We shot the ball well in this gym.”

Prairie View (18-16), coached by Michael Hinton, was no matchfor the Lady Cougars. The Lady Spartans took an early 2-0 lead on ashort jumper by Jessica Nelson but soon found themselves on theshort end of a 9-2 score as Byrd and Gatlin went to work.

Two short jumpers by Gatlin and a trey by Williams concluded thefirst-scoring spree. Brookhaven led 43-10.

The Cougars, coached by Dale Watts, came outblazing against East Rankin (10-18), the No. 4 team out of District3-AA. Watts shuffled his players like a multiple tag team match andthey responded with explosive spurts of points.

Directing the rout was senior guard Craig Smith with 19 points,6 steals and 3 assists. He had 16 points at halftime and finishedwith 3 treys.

Alex Davis hustled on both ends of the floor and joined Smith indouble digits with 12 points and 7 rebounds. Jonathan Winborneadded 7 rebounds.

“Our effort was excellent,” said Watts. “We have been a littleout of sync but our guys are playing extremely hard.

“We did a pretty good job on their big boy,” meaning EastRankin’s muscular 6-7 center Steven Boozer. He scored 10 of his 13points in the fourth quarter but he Patriots were trailing 63-12 atthe start of the final frame.

Boozer was shadowed on defense by Cougars Alan Oster, JimmyLatham and Davis, making East Rankin’s post game nearlynonexistent.

In the second quarter, the Cougars went on a 19-zip scoringblitz before Boozer broke the ice with a free throw and 1:31 leftin the first half, making the score 31-9.