Brookhaven Academy trio in Friday’s All-Star Games

Published 6:00 am Thursday, March 6, 2003

The Brookhaven Academy basketball trio of Anna Gatlin, CraigSmith and Coach Barry Gray have accomplished several milestonesthis season. They have one more curtain call to make Friday in theMPSA Class A-AA All-Star Games at Mississippi College inClinton.

The A-AA girls game tips off at 2 p.m. in A.E. Wood Coliseum.The A-AA boys follow at 3:30. In the night session, the AAA girlsplay at 5:30, followed by the AAA boys at 7.

Gatlin, a 5-11 center, will probably play her last game tomorrowunless she changes her mind. She plan to enroll at Ole Miss thisfall and major in English. Her long-range goal is to pursue acareer in law, possibly a political analyst. She has an interest inmagazine and newspaper writing.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

As a senior, Gatlin averaged 11.8 points and 8.7 rebounds pergame for Coach Gray’s Lady Cougars. They clinched their secondstraight AA State Tournament title and finished 38-2, falling toJackson Prep in the quarterfinals of the Overall Tournament.

“I think we were really blessed this season,” said Gatlin. “Weaccomplished many of our goals. We are a close team and I trulyappreciate Coach Gray.”

Gatlin started playing basketball in the fourth grade.Naturally, she was the tallest player on the team.

Asked about her toughest opponent, Gatlin singled out LeakeAcademy center Kristin Caldwell. “She was probably the best, themost aggressive on offense.”

A cheerleader for 5 years, Gatlin keeps busy but still maintainsa straight-A average. She has scored 28 on the ACT.

Gatlin said the Lady Cougars should be strong next season. Sheand Angie Davis are the only seniors on the squad.

“We have some of the best guards in the state,” said Gatlin.”Our team should be strong for a lot of years.”

Gray said he appreciated Gatlin’s contributions to his team.”Anna has been a model player for us and a model student-athlete.She has a great work ethic. She is probably the best post defenderI have coached in 10 years.

“Anna encourages her teammates,” said Gray. “She has a strong,Christian character and is very mature spiritually.”

She is the daughter of Jeff and Melissa Gatlin. They are membersof Johnson Grove Church of Christ.

Smith (6-0, 160) is a gifted athlete, displaying exceptionalskill in basketball, tennis and golf. He averaged 18 points as asenior, playing a key role in the Cougars’ march to the Class AAState Tournament title. Smith’s average could have been higher butCoach Dale Watts usually shuffled his players during games.

The Cougars (32-2) lost a triple overtime heart-breaker toHillcrest Christian in the quarterfinals of the Overall tourney,despite a 35-point performance by Smith. Hillcrest went on to winthe championship.

“I enjoy playing basketball, golf and tennis,” said Smith. Hehas a 3-handicap in golf and teams with Jimmy Latham on BA’s No. 1doubles team.

Undecided about his future, Smith said he has several options.Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Mississippi College arerecruiting him as a basketball player.

There were seven seniors on this season’s boys basketball team.They led the Cougars to their first state title in 22 years.

“This was the most competitive team we’ve had in a long time,”said Smith. “I enjoyed playing for Coach Watts. My senior year wasa lot of fun.”

The all-stars reported for practice Wednesday morning. Smithsaid he planned to room with Ben Morgan of PresbyterianChristian.

According to Smith, Morgan was the best player he went againstthis season. “He could drive real well to the goal.”

Watts said Smith has an intense desire to succeed. “To me thebiggest thing about Craig Smith is that he is such a competitor. Hehates to lose.”

Smith has leadership skill, too. “Craig has the ability to stepup and lead the team. Even when his A-Game isn’t on, he can stillstep up.

“Craig is very intelligent,” added Watts. “He will be a successin whatever field he goes into.”

Smith is the son of Susan and Dr. Mark Smith. They are membersof St. Francis Catholic Church.

For Gray, this is his fifth all-star game in 18 years ofcoaching. His Lady Cougars have won four state titles in 6years.

“We have about three practices to get them ready to play,” saidGray. Coaching with him are Frank Miller of Prentiss ChristianSchool and Lee Hazlewood of Deer Creek.

All-Star notes: Last year Brookhaven Academy wasrepresented by Ancy Myers and Paul Coker in the star wars. Thisyear Copiah Academy will be represented by Marcy McDonald and LauraStewart in the AAA All-Star Game.