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JA Raiders escape BA

Brookhaven Academy coach Dale Watts has grown to be veryfamiliar with the Jackson Academy Raiders. Watts’ Cougars havefaced the Raiders 5 times in the past 3 years, usually once in theregular season and then again in the MPSA Overall Tournament atMississippi College. In fact, Jackson Academy beat Brookhaven forthe Academy Overall title last season.

The two teams met again Monday for Senior Night at Brookhaven,and for the sixth straight time the Raiders proved to be the thornin the side of the Cougars. Jackson topped Brookhaven 47-44 in ahard-fought, physical game that wasn’t decided until Brookhavenjunior guard Corey Dickerson missed what would have been agame-tying three with three seconds left.

Ryan Geary scored 11 points and Nicos Norris added 10 as theRaiders, who compete in the rigorous Class AAA ranks, improved to17-11 on the season. Brookhaven, led by T-Boy Lynch’s game-high 19points and 5 assists, fell to 22-5.

“We were fortunate.” said Jackson Academy coach Bill Ball. “Wewere able to pound the ball inside early and maintain a lead, butBrookhaven took that away in the second half. We had to hit severalmid-range shots, and if we don’t make those, then we lose the game.Our shooting was the difference.

“Brookhaven played us tough.” added Ball. “We knew coming downhere that this was a tough place to play and Coach Watts always hashis kids ready to play. They have such a great tradition here. Youalways feel good about coming in here and leaving with a win.”

Sophomore forward Josh Winborne added 10 points for Brookhavenand Sawyer Wallace scored 8, but it wasn’t enough as the Raiderscontinually made clutch shots down the stretch to preserve thewin.

“I was proud of our guys.” said Coach Watts. “They played aphysical team and gave it everything they had.”

In the varsity girls game, Jackson whipped theshort-handed Lady Cougars 59-30. Catherine Murphee scored a gamehigh 15 points and Jalessa Taylor added 14 as the Lady Raidersimproved to 16-12 on the year. Brookhaven, led by Holly Case’s 12points, dropped to 28-4.

Brookhaven girls coach Barry Gray was without four starters lastnight. Hannah Watts and Drew Holland Tigner were both sick. BetsyLynch was sidelined by a knee injury and Kelli Snider had a deathin her family.

The results were easily expected as the Lady Raiders raced to an18-4 lead after the first quarter. The Lady Cougars were never ableto recover as the Lady Raiders outscored them in every quarter therest of the way.

Casey Smith added 7 points in support of Case. Katie Nettlesdished out 5 assists. Kacey Rutland made three steals.

Brookhaven’s teams play in the District 6-AA Tournament thisFriday at Columbia Academy. Both teams are seeded No. 1 and awaitthe winner of Amite School Center and Prentiss Christian Schoolgames in the semifinals.