BA boys turn back East Rankin
PELAHATCHIE — Brookhaven Academy coach Dale Watts knewWednesday night’s Class AA State Tournament matchup with EastRankin wouldn’t be easy. The Cougars faced the Patriots on theirhome floor in a must-win situation.
The winner would advance to Friday night’s semifinal round andassure them a spot in next week’s Overall Tournament at MississippiCollege. The loser would hang it up and begin preparing forbaseball season.
Brookhaven fell behind early, but battled back late and dodged ahuge bullet from the upset minded Patriots, winning 54-49 before astanding-room only crowd estimated at 1,200. The Cougars improvedto 32-1 overall and advance to meet Indianola Academy Friday nightat 7:15. East Rankin ended its basketball campaign at 22-7.
Win or lose Friday, the Cougars play Saturday night, either inthe consolation or championship games. Leake plays Marshall in theother semifinals game.
The Cougars knew right away they were in for a battle as thePatriots jumped out to a 4-0 lead and looked to have every ounce ofmomentum going their way. Senior guard Kurt Perkins got thingsrolling for the Cougars with a steal at halfcourt and the ensuinglayup, putting Brookhaven on the board with 5:35 remaining in thefirst quarter.
East Rankin’s sharpshooting Wes Williamson nailed two big treys,giving the hosts a 14-7 lead going into the second quarter.
Brookhaven caught fire in the second, outscoring the Patriots21-13, led by Alan Gray, who scored 7 of his team-high 16 points inthe period. Gray hit two big threes and a short jumper in the lane,sparking Brookhaven on a 16-2 run to begin the quarter.
East Rankin responded and closed the gap to one point at 28-27going into the break.
“We didn’t play well at all,” said Brookhaven Academy coach DaleWatts. “I’m proud of my guys for how they handled everything. Theygutted it out and found a way to win.”
East Rankin continued to battle in the third, closing theBrookhaven lead to 3 points with 20 seconds left in the third.Brookhaven’s T-Boy Lynch buried a deep two-point shot from the topof the key as time expired, giving the Cougars a 44-39 lead goinginto the final quarter.
Brookhaven was able to maintain a 5-point lead, 49-44, with 2:04remaining in the game, but Williamson buried a three for thePatriots, closing the lead to 2 points.
Coach Watts responded with a delay offense, forcing the hosts tofoul and put the Cougars on the line. Brookhaven went 5-for-8 fromthe charity stripe in the last 70 seconds to preserve the win.
Seth Davis followed Gray with 14 points, to go along with 7rebounds and 3 assists. Jeremy Winborne scored 10 points, had 8steals and 7 rebounds of his own.
“Our defense was the difference,” said Gray. “We had a hard timecommunicating with one another on the offensive end, but we pulledit together and defended hard. It was exciting. This is the loudestgym we’ve played in all year. It’s a big win”
Wes Williamson led East Rankin with a game-high 18 points.Michael Weldon followed with 14 for the Patriots.
In other first round action, Indianola Academy defeated Copiah51-32 and improved to 20-8 overall. The Colonels (15-14) were ledby Jake Guess with 17 points. Indianola got 15 points from BenStallings and 14 from Burndell Ollie.
South girls teams fared better than three South boys teams wholost as Natchez Trinity beat Simpson Academy 45-36 and ACCS downedBayou 71-44.