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Winborne’s layup lifts BA over MRA

JACKSON — Brookhaven Academy entered Friday night’s MPSAOverall semifinal round at Millsaps Colege with what most thoughtwas an insurmountable task: beating Madison-Ridgeland Academy. Noone outside of the Cougar team and the “Brookhaven Nation,” as thefan base has come to be known, thought the Cougars had a prayeragainst the Patriots.

MRA entered the game as the Class AAA state champion and wasregarded as one of the best teams ever to play in the MPSA, withonly one of its three loses coming to a Mississippi team.Brookhaven, the class AA state champion, carried a 34 gamewin-streak, with its only loss coming at the hands of JacksonAcademy. MRA had defeated JA four times during the season and hadevery reason to look ahead to Saturday’s Overall title game.

But when all was said and done, an overflow crowd estimated at2,500 plus watched as Brookhaven did the unthinkable.

Brookhaven topped MRA 59-58 in a game that wasn’t decided untilCougars senior guard Jeremy Winborne knocked down a running jumperwith just four tenths of a second remaining in the game. Fanswatched as the ball sat on the rim for what seemed like aneternity, before falling through the net as the final horn sounded,sending the Cougar faithful into a thunderous celebration.

Both teams battled throughout the game. Brookhaven came out hotin the first quarter, taking a three-point advantage into thesecond quarter as senior Kurt Perkins nailed a jump shot from thefree throw line as time expired, giving the Cougars a 14-11lead.

The second quarter was all MRA as the Patriots outscoredBrookhaven 16-9, and took a 4-point lead into the locker rooms atthe break. Brookhaven fans wondered if their Cougars could comefrom behind once again against the talented MRA team.

Winborne made sure that Brookhaven wasn’t going to go downeasily, scoring 13 of his game-high 26 points in the third quarter,including a three from the right wing as time expired, givingBrookhaven a 9-point lead at 46-37 going into the final frame.

That’s when things got a little nerve-racking. MRA slowly butsurely chipped away at Brookhaven’s lead throughout the fourthquarter. Trey Frazer and Ty Armstrong each nailed 3-point shots andBrett Armstrong added 8 points in the quarter, pulling within 2 ofBrookhaven with 42 seconds remaining in the game.

The Cougars had their chances to put the game away, but missedfour consecutive free throws in the final minute, giving thePatriots the ball with 26 seconds remaining.

MRA coach Richard Duease put the game in the hands of Frazer,who nailed an NBA range three from the top of the key, giving thePatriots a slim 58-57 lead with 4.2 seconds remaining.

Then came Winborne’s heroics. Coach Dale Watts called a timeoutand gave his instructions. Winborne inbounded the ball to SethDavis, got it right back and drove the length of the floor, nailingthe game winning shot as time expired.

“Coach Watts had a great game plan,” said Winborne. “No one gaveus a chance to win this game, but we believed in ourselves andbelieved in each other.”

“When Frazer hit the three, my stomach kinda sank a little bit,”continued Winborne. “We called the time-out and got our plantogether. Coach told us that whoever got the ball to take it to thebasket. I told Seth to give me the ball and he said OK.

“There were about a million things going through my mind in thelast four seconds. I let the ball go and hit the floor. I looked upas the ball was going in. It’s the best feeling in the world. Wordscan’t describe what I’m feeling.”

“I wouldn’t trade any guy on this team for anything,” addedWinborne. “We believe in each other and we’ve come so far. It’s areally special feeling.”

Kurt Perkins followed Winborne with 13 points for Brookhaven.T-Boy Lynch was able to score 11, as the Cougars improve 36-1 onthe season, and meet Jackson Academy for the OverallChampionship.

“We knew what Brookhaven was going to do coming in and we stilldidn’t stop it,” said MRA coach Richard Duease. “They’re a goodteam and we’re a good team. Both teams played great, things justwent their way.

“Coach Watts did an excellent job of preparing his team. We werebigger but they were quicker and they all handle the ball well. Wegot the chance we wanted and took a lead late, but Winborne won thegame. He’s a great player.”

Samuel Bolen and Trey Frazer each scored 13 points to lead MRA.Brett Armstrong added 12 point and Ty Armstrong scored 11 as thePatriots ended their season at 33-4.