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Lady Panthers have tall basketball goals

Bolstered by depth at the post position and blessed with theangelic arrival of a transfer point guard, the Ole Brook LadyPanthers are expected to make major improvements this basketballseason. Sophomore twin towers Swayze Black (6-1) and Nikki Byrd(6-2) have a strong supporting cast in the paint. Angel Weston, acat-quick point guard from New Orleans, should solve the turnoverproblems that have plagued the Billy Holmes-coached teams in thepast.

Meanwhile, the Ole Brook varsity boys, coached by Doug Hines,tackle a major rebuilding effort, minus three graduated postplayers who did much of the team’s rebounding and scoring.

Ole Brook Classic

Both teams receive their first test Saturday night in the OleBrook Classic. They meet Hazlehurst at 7 and 8:30 p.m.

The other Classic games are Vicksburg vs. the BHS junior varsityat noon, followed by varsity action: Callaway vs. Crystal Springsgirls, 1-2:30; Wingfield vs. Vicksburg boys, 2:30-4; Forest Hillvs. Crystal Springs boys, 4-5:30; and Provine vs. Heidelberg boys,5:30.

The Lady Panthers, posted a 13-7 record last season,winning the Region 6-4A consolation game and advancing to the firstround of the South state playoffs where they fell to Wayne County.Lost to graduation was shooting guard Ashley Leggett who averaged11 points per game.

“This is the hardest working group I’ve had,” saidHolmes, 64, a McComb native in his fourth year at the helm. “Theywork together real well.”

Black (9 ppg, 11 rpg) and Byrd provide Ole Brook with apowerful inside game. Returning guard Blanche Wilson (9 ppg, 5 rpg)gives the Lady Panthers an outside shooting threat. Wilson alsoaveraged 5 assists and 2 steals per game.

Weston transferred from Xavier Prep. Black and Byrd havetwo 5-11 rivals in teammates Whitley Shannon and Katie Mackabee,making them work harder in practice.

“I’m optimistic,” Holmes admitted. “We have experienceon the perimeter and depth at the post. We lost a bunch of closegames last year.”

The Panthers, coached by Ronald Hines, are in search ofstrong and tall post players. Centers Bud Chatman, Michael Thrasherand Wade Stewart graduated.

Top returnees are guard Tory Richardson (5.1 ppg),forward Bobo Rancifer (8.2 ppg) and guard Jerome Avery (6.4).Rancifer and Avery are starters on the Ole Brook football team andwon’t be available until December.

“We are basically young but we have some experience,”said Hines, 32, starting his fourth season in charge of thePanthers. They finished 9-20 last season.

Hines believes defense and the transition game should behis team’s strength. “We are the quickest since I’ve beenhere.”

Jarvis Blue, a 6-3 sophomore, is the tallest player onOle Brook’s team. Semmie Yarborough, a tight end on the footballteam, could bring some help to the post position.

Asked about the division race, Hines said he expectsdefending champion Terry to be the team to beat. “Terry has thesame group back and Joe Willis is a star guard forthem.”

Hines said McComb should be a contender in the divisionrace, too, because of experienced players.

@Bbstandings:

Brookhaven Varsity Girls Roster

SENIORS: Alesha Irvin, 5-5; Corena Bates, 5-6; AngelWeston, 5-2; Blanche Wilson, 5-7; Portia Dickey, 5-8.

JUNIORS: Jermecia Jones, 5-6; Kayla Harris, 5-7; JessicaByrd, 5-8; Katie Mackabee, 5-11.

SOPHOMORES: Whitley Shannon, 5-11; Aletha Stovall, 5-3;Georgia Rae Rainer, 5-5; Swayze Black, 6-1; Shaquana Williams, 5-5;Jamecia Smith, 5-8; Nikki Byrd, 6-2.

Brookhaven Varsity Boys Roster

SENIORS: Bryan Jackson, 5-8; William Hughes,6-1.

JUNIORS: Michael Washington, 6-0; Terrance Perkins,5-10; Antwan Bryant, 5-11; Travis Nelson, 6-0.

SOPHOMORES: Marvin Thomas, 5-11; John Davis, 6-0; ToryRichardson, 5-11; Chris Daniel, 6-0; Orlando Adams, 6-0; LekelBrunson, 5-11; Jarvis Blue, 6-3; Dezzion Smith, 5-10; Ivy Adams,5-7.

2005-06 Ole Brook Schedule

November: 5-Brookhaven Classic, 8-at South Pike, 10-atWest Lincoln, 12-at Bogue Chitto, 14, 17-18 Brookhaven Tournament;29-Crystal Springs.

December: 1-3 Crystal Springs Tournament, 9-South Pike,12-Clinton, 16-at Loyd Star, 20-at Florence, 26-28 McCombTournament.

January: 3-at Hazlehurst, 6-at Terry, 10-Port Gibson,13-Mendenhall, 17-Florence, 20-at Port Gibson, 24-at LawrenceCounty, 27-at McComb, 31-Lawrence County.

February: 3-at Mendenhall, 7-Terry, 10-McComb, 13-17Division 6-4A Tournament at Brookhaven.