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BHS basketball teams debut Sat.

Brookhaven unveils its 2006-07 varsity basketball teams Saturdayin the Hattiesburg Jamboree. The Panthers and Lady Panthers beginplaying for keeps on Nov. 7, when they host Enterprise.

The Panthers play the Forest County AHS boys at 4:30 and Raleighat 5:30.

The Lady Panthers play Magee at 3:30 and Hattiesburg at 5p.m.

Craft Pilots BHS Girls

Under the direction of new head coach Freda Craft, the LadyPanthers are pointing for another state tournament berth. They wereSouth Mississippi Class 4A runners-up to Wayne County and reachedthe state quarterfinals under Coach Billy Holmes, who retired. Theyfinished 21-16, falling to Indianola Gentry in the statetourney.

Preseason all-staters 6-foot-2 Nikki Byrd and 6-1 Swayze Blacklead the Lady Panthers. Whitley Shannon, a 6-foot senior, blossomedlast season. Senior Katie Mackabee at 5-11 is another strongrebounding force.

“We don’t look that great right now,” said Craft, who spent thelast 9 years at Hazlehurst. “A lot depends on the competition.”

Craft carried her Class 3A Hazlehurst team to the statetournament last season. She sees lots of potential in the LadyPanthers.

“My weakest spot will be at the guard position,” said Craft. “Ionly have one experienced guard in Monte’ Wilson, a transfer fromNorthwest Rankin; and Jermecia Jones, who is more of a shootingguard.”

Depth in the paint will help Craft’s team on the perimeter.

“We are pretty solid inside,” said Craft. “I’m moving Swayzeoutside to the wing.”

Black averaged 10.9 points, and 10.6 rebounds per game lastseason. Byrd averaged 12.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks pergame.

Craft’s assistant coach is Chastidy Sandifer.

Panthers Optimistic

After setting a school record for losses last season, thePanthers and Coach Ronald Hines are anticipating better results.They return two strong starters and several talented newcomers.

The Panthers lost point guard Jerome Avery and forward OrlandasChapman

to graduation.

Returning starters are Charles (Bobo) Rancifer and Simmie Smith.Both athletes are stars on the football team, Rancifer atquarterback and Yarborough at wide receiver.

Rancifer, a 6-foot junior, averaged 18.5 points, 7.8 rebounds,3.1 assists and 2.5 steals per game as the Panthers finished 5-26last season. He was named to The DAILY LEADER’s All-Lincoln CountyBasketball Team.

Hines, 34, is in his fifth year at the helm. He said juniorMalcolm Hilliard is expected to take over the point guard position.Terrance Perkins also is working at point guard.

Desmond Arnold, a 6-5 sophomore, is the tallest varsity teammember. “We have a couple of kids about 6-3 in Chad Hall, JarvisBlue and Marcus Magee who can rebound,” said Hines.

“We have some younger players who should be real productive.,”he added. “Donaldmetric Blue, Chad Hall and Calvin Smith shouldproduce some points for us.”

Asked about the Division 6-4A race, Hines said, “McComb returnsthe most people. They have a bunch of seniors. Otis Smith andRoteddrick Cotton are among the top players in the state.

“We should be able to compete with them.”

Working as assistant coaches are Clifford Furr and JerroldWillis.