Panthers ambush Crystal Springs; Lady Panthers stumble

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

With humid-like conditions outside, Brookhaven welcomed CrystalSprings inside a sweltering James A. Sinclair Gymnasium Tuesdaynight. Both games went down to the wire, before the doubleheaderwas declared a split decision; with fatigue playing an importantfactor.

The Crystal Springs Tigers missed 3 free throws and a potentialgame-tying 3-pointer in the final minute of the game. When thefinal horn sounded, the Brookhaven Panthers had come from behind toregister a 71-68 win.

Lady Tiger Latasha Nichols pumped in a game-high 27 points, inleading Crystal Springs to a 59-57 win over the Brookhaven LadyPanthers. Nichols also had 5 steals and 3 assists for head coachDanielle Busby.

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The same two teams will meet Thursday in the opening round ofthe Crystal Springs Round-Robin Tournament at 7 and 8:30 p.m. OnFriday, Brookhaven takes on Hazlehurst at 4 and 5:30. Tournamentaction concludes Saturday with Ole Brook meeting Raleigh in theearly games at 4.

Brookhaven 71, Crystal Springs 68

“We just run out of gas in the second half,” said Tiger headcoach Broderick Owens about his team’s second half collapse. “Wecould not get the shots to fall like they did in the firsthalf.”

Crystal Springs (2-5) jumped out to an early 21-13 lead afterone period, and 41-33 at the intermission. The Tigers fosterednumerous points off their transition defense. Jaquerio Tillmantallied 8 points in the second.

The Tigers extended their advantage to 11 points, at 61-50 latein the third quarter.

Ole Brook (4-4) caught fire in the final minute of the third;thus raising the temperature even higher. Guards Terrance Perkinsand Keenan Richardson sacked consecutive treys, as the Pantherstrailed 61-56 entering the final stanza.

Richardson, a 5-5 junior, continued his torrid shooting with 5points to start the final 8 minutes. His steal and subsequent layupcut the Panthers’ deficit to 2 points, 63-61.

Both teams would trade leads over the next 6 minutes. SimmieYarborough’s offensive putback with 1:20 gave his teammates theadvantage for good at 70-67.

The Tigers missed 3 free throws in the final 80 seconds

“They (Crystal Springs) started getting tired towards the end ofthe first half,” said Panther head coach Ronald Hines. “We did abetter job of blocking them out in the second half.”

The Tigers shot a blistering 72-percent (19 of 26) from thefield in the opening half; finishing the game by shooting 52percent (30 of 57). Joshua Hollins tallied a game-high 22 points on10-of-15 shooting, along with 6 rebounds.

Richardson garnered 11 points for Hines on 4-of-5 from thefield. He also had 3 steals and 3 assists. Yarborough led Ole Brookwith 18 points. Charles Rancifer followed with 17 points, 5rebounds, 3 steals and 7 assists.

Ole Brook shot 54 percent from the field and 65 percent from thecharity stripe. The Panthers won the rebounding battle 26-24. Eachteam committed 22 turnovers.

Crystal Springs 59, Brookhaven 57

The Lady Panthers (7-2) asserted themselves in a big way in theopening period. A balanced scoring attack propelled them to a 21-11lead.

“We did not play after the first period,” said Ole Brook headcoach Freda Craft. “We appeared to be tired; did not shootwell.”

The Lady Tigers (5-3) began their march towards a comeback inthe second, outscoring Brookhaven 17-16 to trail 37-28 at thehalftime break.

Busby got a big boost from Nichols in the second half with 19points. Nichols, a 5-7 junior guard, tossed in 13 points in thirdon numerous steals and an old-fashion 3-point play. Nichols’ stealand subsequent lay-up gave the Lady Tigers a 50-48 lead enteringthe fourth.

“She (Latasha) is our go-to player,” said Busby. “She has reallystepped up her game in crunch time. She had a good gametonight.”

Craft’s crew held a brief 57-56 advantage with under 2 minutesleft in the game on a reverse layup by senior guard Jermecia Jones.Unfortunately for Ole Brook, that would be the extent of theirscoring down the stretch. Missed free throws and turnoversprevented the Lady Panthers from drawing a deadlock.

For the Lady Tigers, Shakina Green had 11 points. Shana Dixonwas tops off the boards with 7 and dished out 5 assists.

Brookhaven was led by Dandy Dozen center Nikki Byrd with 18points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. Jones pumped in 12 points,3 steals and 2 assists. Whitley Shannon added 10 points and 2assists. Katie Mackabee had 6 rebounds.

Dandy Dozen guard/forward Swayze Black was held to 6 points, 5rebounds and 4 steals before fouling out late in the game.