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Panthers upset McComb; Lady Panthers eliminated

MAGNOLIA – Over the last several weeks, there has been a flu buggoing around most the state’s high schools. On Thursday night atthe South Pike Coliseum, the Division 6-4A Tournament saw itsversion of an upset bug floating through the air. Three of thehighest remaining seeds saw their seasons come to a crashinghalt.

The No. 2 seed South Pike Lady Eagles used a full-court pressuredefense to dismantle the Brookhaven Lady Panthers 62-41 lastnight.

Brookhaven’s Lamar Hall secured the offensive rebound off hismissed free throw with less than 4 seconds left in the game. Hall’scarom and McComb’s unwillingness to foul as time expired, allowedthe No. 4 seeded Panthers to upset the No. 1 seed Tigers 50-49.

In other tournament action, the No. 4 seed Terry Lady Bulldogssent the No. 1-seeded Lawrence County Lady Cougars home with a55-43 loss. The No. 7 seed Raymond Rangers pulled off its secondmajor upset with a 44-32 win over the No. 2-seeded Lawrence CountyCougars.

All four winners from Thursday night advance to the tournamentfinals tonight. At 6 p.m., the South Pike girls meet the Terrygirls. The Brookhaven boys take on Raymond at 7:30. All four teamswill advance to the first round of the South State 4A tournament.Tonight’s winners will host, while the losers must travel in theopening round. Girls play gets under way Monday, with the boysstarting on Tuesday. Game times are 7 p.m.

Brookhaven 50, McComb 49

This was probably the most anticipated matchup in thetournament. Both teams have been a thorn in each other’s side overthe past several years. Brookhaven did not want to be swept bytheir Pike County counterparts.

McComb won both regular season matchups with the Panthers,including a 64-51 victory at McComb on Jan. 31.

Brookhaven (24-5) held the lead for 31 of the 32-minuteextravaganza. The Panthers held a 15-12 lead at the end of thefirst quarter and carried a 1-point lead, 23-22, into the halftimelocker room.

McComb (21-6), coached by Hilton Harrell, regained the lead at29-28 on a basket by Tremaine Landrews. The advantage wasshort-lived, as Panther senior forward Dexter Middleton scored on abasket to give Brookhaven the lead once again at 30-29.

An offensive putback by post player Phillip Tobias gave thePanthers a 34-31 lead entering the final quarter.

There were several ties and lead changes in the final 8 minutes.The most significant factor in the ballgame occurred with 2:26remaining on the scoreboard. McComb’s 6-foot-10 All-American seniorcenter Jackie Butler picked up his fifth personal foul and wasretired to the Tiger bench. Harrell’s ballclub still had some lifeleft.

Butler was held to just 11 points by the suffocating Brookhavendefense.

Tiger guard D.J. Carr gave his teammates a 49-48 lead with 33seconds left in the game, on a steal and two-hand dunk.

The Panthers would take advantage of Butler’s absence in thepaint as Lamar Hall scored on a short basket. Hall was fouled byMcComb after a Tiger missed with less than 4 ticks on theclock.

“Our seniors showed true leadership tonight,” said Panther headcoach Ronald Hines following the game. “This is one of the bestgroups of kids that I have ever coached.” Hines was referring tothe senior trio of Middleton (12 points), Lamar Hall (12 points)and Brandon Caston (11 points) who combined for 37 points.

Carr paced the Tigers with 13 points.

The Lady Panthers (12-18) not only battled theLady Eagles but were fighting flu bugs of their own. ShamekaGilmore, Brianna Patton and Mandy Vinson were not at full strengtheven though all three players saw action.

South Pike (24-3), coached by Marcus Flippin, used a stiflingfull-court press defense to gain a 12-10 lead entering the secondperiod. The Lady Eagles began to pull away in the second frame,outscoring Brookhaven 18-6 to author a 30-16 lead at theintermission.

“We just could not break their press,” said Lady Panther headcoach Billy Holmes.

The Lady Eagles used an 8-of-13 effort from the charity stripeto take a 44-26 cushion into the fourth period.

South Pike’s Ebony Brumfield controlled the offensive end forFlippin, scoring a team-high 13 points and grabbing numerousrebounds.

The Lady Panthers were led by junior forward Anna Autman with agame-high 15 points and 15 rebounds.

“It was an aggressive game and that was not to our advantage,”added Holmes.