BA girls eliminate Prep

Published 6:00 am Thursday, February 26, 2004

CLINTON — Brookhaven Academy point guard Lauren Smith almostdidn’t get to play in Wednesday night’s showdown with Jackson Prepin the MPSA Overall Tournament at Mississippi College. Hospitalizedwith a virus which caused severe dehydration, Smith spent 20 hoursat KDMC on intravenous fluids before she was released.

Smith, pumped in a pair of treys and helped the Lady Cougarsturn back a strong Prep squad 48-45, avenging last year’s loss andbringing them one step closer to the coveted Overall crown. Anestimated crowd of 2,500 watched the Lady Cougars (41-0) erase a5-point halftime deficit and bury memories of previous setbacks inthe Overall tourney, sparked by post players Jessie Altman with 12points and Kristian Davidson with 11.

The victory sends Coach Barry Gray’s Lady Cougars against ClassA champion Delta Academy at 1:45 Friday in the semifinals. ClassAAA champion Greenwood Pillow plays Leake Academy in the othersemifinals girls game. Championship finals are Saturday at 1p.m.

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“I feel a lot better,” said Smith, smiling. “Anything is betterthan coming up here and losing to Prep. We knew if we got here, wewould have to beat Prep. I had a lot of people praying for me.”

Gray watched his girls take their first lead of the second halfon a trey by Mallory Logan, pushing them ahead 34-32 with 5:41showing. Smith sacked a trey and it was 37-34.

“I was really worried about Lauren,” Gray admitted. “She wasdehydrated with a virus. The doctor said she could play thismorning. She could have had an IV at halftime but she didn’t wantit. She’s a warrior.

“Both teams played hard,” Gray continued. “Everybody competed.That was the best (first) quarter I’ve seen Prep play. We playedbetter the second half.”

The Lady Patriots (29-7), runners-up in the Class AAA StateTournament, used their depth and the outside shooting of MaribethWilloughby to claim a 22-14, first-quarter lead. Willoughby, a 5-7senior, finished with 12 points, sacking 2 treys in the firstquarter.

Brookhaven got some strong post play from Davidson and Altman.Davidson picked up her third personal foul with 6:22 left in thefirst half. Emily Langley came off the bench and played somequality minutes, scoring 6 points.

“Our zone defense was crucial and Jessie did a good job,” saidGray. “We executed in the second half.”

Altman agreed. “We’ve learned that getting panicky doesn’t help.We just have to keep fighting and execute.

“Prep is strong,” said Altman. “We couldn’t overlook any of theteams up here.”

A short jumper by guard Kelli Byrd gave Brookhaven a 5-point,41-36 lead with 1:29 left in the third quarter. Willoughby answeredwith a trey but those were her last points of the game.

Trailing 45-44 after Prep’s Carolyn Wade hit a pair of freethrows with 3:42 remaining, Brookhaven got back-to-back field goalsfrom Altman, the second a bank shot off the glass. Brookhaven led48-45 with 1:46 left.

Willoughby missed a long trey as time expired.

“It was tough to lose,” said Prep coach Jerry Browning.”Brookhaven has a great team and they were a lot quicker then wewere.

“They went to a 1-3-1 zone and for some reason it bothered us,”Browning continued. “We got a little panicky. They did a good jobguarding us and we got a little fatigued.”