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McComb marches past Panthers

The Ole Brook Panthers slowed the pace and concentrated onstopping McComb sharpshooter Otis Smith Friday night. Smith stillmanaged 12 points while teammates Roteddrick Cotton netted 18 andDeffredrick White 13 in the Tigers’ 56-34 trouncing of thePanthers.

McComb improved its record to 19-7 overall and 8-4 in theDivision 6-4A race. The Tigers are seeded fourth in the tournamentwhich tips off Monday in Ole Brook’s Sinclair Gymnasium.

The Panthers (6-24, 2-10), coached by Ronald Hines, are seededseventh and play No. 2 seed Terry Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Ole Brook guard Jerome Avery was one of the seniors honoredFriday night during a ceremony between the varsity games. Hisassignment was to shadow Smith who had scored 31 points in McComb’s72-42 win over Brookhaven on Jan. 27, at McComb.

“Otis Smith is a great shooter and we wanted to slow him downafter what he did to us last time,” said Avery, a hustling 5-6guard. “I contested his shots but he was shooting over my head. Hewas knocking them down. He’s about 6-foot-3.

“Charles (Rancifer) and me were hitting jumpers to try and keepus in the game.”

Avery was the only senior in the starting lineup as Hines wentwith three sophomores and freshman Donaldmetric Blue who tossed ina 10 points. He and Rancifer shared scoring honors as the Pantherslost for the 24th time.

“The difference was the first half when McComb scored 29 and weonly scored 11,” said Hines. “We have to do a better job on ourtransition game. We had opportunities to score.”

Limited to a season-low 34 points by McComb, the Panthers didnot shoot a free throw. They were outrebounded 25-22.

McComb coach Hilton Harrell was weakened by a virus and restedon the bleachers after the game, waiting for his team to exit thedressing room. He only has one senior on the team in DominiqueThompson.

“Brookhaven slowed it down on us,” said Harrell. “We werepatient on offense. We played smart and didn’t try to get out ofwhat we were trying to do.”

The Tigers got 2 field goals from Derrick Harris and a trey fromSmith in their 15-point third quarter. They led 44-21 entering thefinal 8 minutes of action.

Akeem Williams had 3 assists and 2 steals in the victory.

Rancifer had 5 assists and 2 steals as the Panthers shot 34percent from the field. They made 4 of 11 treys.