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Byrd, Black lead Lady Panthers over McComb in showdown

Center Nikki Byrd and the Brookhaven Lady Panthers used theirsuperior height to hold down McComb’s Lady Tigers Friday night in ashowdown of Division 6-4A leaders. Forward Swayze Black sacked 23points and Byrd grabbed 17 rebounds in sparking the Lady Panthersto a 58-40 triumph in Sinclair Gymnasium.

“It came down to who wanted it more,” said Byrd, a 6-foot-2junior. “We came out and got the job done. It was a big teameffort.”

Asked about her rebounding performance, plus 17 points, Byrdsaid, “I blocked out and grabbed the rebounds.”

The Lady Panthers reached the 20-win plateau and improved theirdivision record to 8-0. McComb fell to 19-4 and 7-1.

Black, a 6-1 junior, accounted for 10 rebounds, giving her andByrd a double-double. Their inside presence intimidated McComb.

McComb coach Angela Johnson said Brook’s superior height wasdecisive. “It’s unreal to see three 6-footers out there. We wereintimidated by their height. Brookhaven played an excellent gameand we didn’t play well.

“Now we have to regroup and get ready for them when they come toour place,” referring to a Feb. 9 season finale at McComb.

The division tournament tips off Feb. 12, at Florence.

BHS coach Freda Craft said she was pleased with her team’sperformance. “This was a big win for us. It puts us in first place.Our next big game will be at McComb.”

Craft praised Black’s efforts against McComb. “Swayze finallystepped up and played like she can.”

Black scored 18 of her points in the second half, several onacrobatic and athletic putbacks over McComb defenders. She hit 3straight jumpers to close the third quarter, pushing her team’slead to 15 points, 48-33.

As a team, Brook outrebounded McComb 42-18. Kayla Harrissnatched 7 rebounds for the Panthers before a leg cramp put her onthe sidelines early in the fourth quarter.

McComb got 16 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals fromAlisha Rayborn. Portia Craft added 10 points.