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Brookhaven Academy quartet in all-star soccer, basketball

Four Brookhaven Academy athletes are enjoying the all-starexperience this weekend. Wesley Taylor will participate inSaturday’s MPSA All-Star Soccer Game while Jeremy Winborne, AlanGray and Kurt Perkins play for the South Class AA-AAA Boys inAll-Star basketball games at Millsaps College.

Taylor and his South teammates meet the North at 1 p.m. onHarper Davis Field. The Brookhaven Academy trio are in the 4:30AA-AAA game in the Hall Activities Center.

The basketball format will feature four games, starting at 11a.m., with the Class A girls. the Class AA-AAA girls play at 12:45p.m., followed by the Class A boys at 2:30.

Taylor (6-0, 250), an All-Star Football Game participant lastDecember as a lineman, is making a rare double-dip as a centerforward/midfielder in soccer. He played for Coach Frank Smith atBA.

“There’s a lot of running in soccer; kind of like football,”said Taylor. “You have to use teamwork.”

Taylor admits he loves to play sports. “Soccer is all aboutteamwork and fundamentals. I started out in rec league soccer.”

Taylor said he is considering a football scholarship at eitherBelhaven or Millsaps. He wants to pursue a career in sportsmedicine.

Another medical career could be spawned by Gray (5-9, 145). Hewas a standout shooting guard for the Cougars, helping them to asecond straight Class AA State Tournament championship. They lostto Jackson Academy in the Overall Tournament championship game andfinished with a 36-2 worksheet.

Gray said he plans to attend Ole Miss and enter a premedprogram. His parents, Barry and Lindy Gray, both played in the 1981All-Star Game after helping their respective BA teams to statechampionships. Lindy was an all-star MVP.

Asked about his senior season, Gray said, “It was an excitingseason. We had a balanced team. Everyone of the starters led inscoring at one time or another.”

According to Gray, the season’s highlight was beating top-rankedMadison-Ridgeland Academy 59-58 in the Overall semifinals. “MRA wasour game of the season.”

Coach Dale Watts said Gray was a key to his team’s success. TheCougars have compiled a 102-8 record over the last threeseasons.

“Alan has had a tremendous senior year,” said Watts. “He was ourstandout perimeter shooter. He hit nine treys againstHillcrest.

“A lot of team’s underestimated Alan’s athletic ability,” saidWatts. “He was so quick with his passing, and very unselfish. Hewould see the floor and distribute the basketball.”

Gray also is a member of the tennis team.

Perkins (5-11, 145) transferred from Central Private of Baker,La. last summer. He adjusted well to the new system.

“This was the best basketball year of my life,” said Perkins. “Iloved playing for Coach Watts. I had to learn what Coach Wattsdemanded.

“It was easy to move because I played their style of ball.”

Perkins also plays third base and center field for the baseballteam. In college, he wants to major in business.

“Kurt has been a most pleasant experience,” said Watts. “He hadto sacrifice a lot of individual things to be part of our team.

“He’s the reason we won the state championship game againstLeake,” said Watts. “He could bring the ball down the court, splitthe seams and hit those short jumpers.”

Winborne (5-11, 155) became a part of BA basketball lore when hesank a last-second layup to upset MRA. He plans to major inengineering at Mississippi State University. He also playsshortstop on the baseball team.

“I’m definitely going to miss playing for Coach Watts,” saidWinborne. “He pushed us hard. He wanted you to do better. He wantswhat is best for us and the team.”

At first impression, Watts is a loud and fiery sideline coachwho chews out his players. Winborne knows the other side of thebeloved mentor.

“Bystanders look at Coach Watts as being mean,” said Winborne.”I wouldn’t want to play for anybody else but him.”

Winborne led the team in scoring with an average of 16.5 pointsper game. He had several double-doubles and a triple-double thisseason.

“Jeremy was been our go-to guy in every year that he played,”Watts pointed out. “When the game was at stake, you wanted the ballin his hands. He’s so athletic, just a super athlete.”

All-Star notes: Coaching the South AA-AAA boysare Reid McCay of Columbia Academy, Mark Bryan of PresbyterianChristian School and Ricky Gray of McComb Parklane. Gray’s father,John R. Gray of Adams County Christian School, is coaching theSouth AA-AAA girls, along with Kim Weaver of Parklane.