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Area basketball teams have high hopes in tourneys

Shoot for the moon and you might hit a star along the way. Areabasketball teams carry some high aspirations into this weekend’sstate playoff action.

Basketball fans can feast on the roundball sport at twolocations in Lincoln County this weekend. Brookhaven High School ishosting the South Mississippi Class 4A girls tournament in SinclairGymnasium, Thursday through Saturday night. On the other side ofthe tracks, Brookhaven Academy is hosting the MPSA Class AA StateTournament in John R. Gray Gymnasium.

Certainly, Coach Freda Craft’s Ole Brook Lady Panthers have highaspirations. They were South Mississippi runners-up to eventualstate champion Wayne County in last year’s tournament.

Guess who’s back?

Wayne County’s Lady War Eagles are seeking a fifth consecutiveSouth championship. They play McComb today at 4 p.m. in thequarterfinals. Brook plays Laurel at 7. In other action, Division6-4A members Mendenhall and Port Gibson play Northeast Jones andPass Christian respectively.

Looking ahead to Friday, semifinals are at 6 and 7:30 p.m.Saturday’s consolation game is at 6 p.m., followed by thechampionship at 7:30.

In the Class 4A South Boys Tournament at Pass Christian, CoachPreston Wilson’s Lawrence County Cougars tackle the host team at8:30 tonight.

Another local team in the South playoffs finds Bogue Chitto’sgirls at Pisgah to meet the Stringer Lady Red Devils who aredefending state champions. Game time is 5:30 today.

Bogue Chitto, coached by Christi Terrell, has a legitimate shotat beating Stringer if the Lady ‘Cats play four quarters of solidbasketball. Last year they lost to Stringer by 10 points, atStringer.

Where is Pisgah?

Answer: The Dragons inhabit Sand Hill which is northeast ofJackson, near the Ross Barnett Reservoir, on Highway 25. It’s justsouth of Goshen Springs.

In a South Class 1A boys quarterfinals game tonight, WestLincoln tackles Stringer, at Stringer. Tipoff is 5:30 p.m.

West Lincoln, coached by Lane Young, has state tournament fever.It’s been a while since the Bears made a trip to Jackson’sMississippi Coliseum. They have a balance starting quintet. Forsure, they all need to play well against Stringer.

Where the heck is Stringer?

Answer: Drive east on Highway 84 to Laurel. Then turn north onHighway 15 for 12 miles. There’s a shortcut through Soso but you’llneed a map and a compass.

Franklin County is making some noise in the South Class 3Aplayoffs. The Lady Bulldogs, coached by Charles Moore, tackleSoutheast Lauderdale at 8:30 tonight in the midnight special. It’sa long ride from Meadville to Meridian and back.

The Bulldogs, coached by Chris Jordan, surprised No. 1 seedYazoo County in overtime Tuesday night. Their reward is a trip toCarthage to play the host team tonight at 7.

For sure, the quarterfinals are an extra-tall hurdle for theparticipants. The winners get at least two more games. Aftertomorrow’s semifinals, they’ll play Saturday in either theconsolation or championship games.

Moving right along, the action will be fast and furious in theMPSA Class AA state tournament this weekend. A lot of out-of-townvisitors will fill local motels Friday and Saturday night.Tournament semifinals feature girls in the afternoon and boys atnight. Saturday will follow the same format.

The Brookhaven Academy boys are 2-time defending statechampions. The Cougars (29-5), in a major rebuilding campaign, havemade a remarkable run for veteran head coach Dale Watts.

Watts coaches a very disciplined team which thrives on quicknessand full-court pressure. The Cougars’ transition game is a joy tobehold.

The Lady Cougars (35-4) have enjoyed an outstanding season, too.Injuries to key players the last four weeks have caused Coach BarryGray to make some major adjustments.

Gray lost standout point guard Betsy Lynch to her third ACL kneeinjury four weeks ago. Tuesday night, sophomore forward DrewHolland Tigner sustained a high ankle sprain. Gray hopes to havehis leading scorer and rebounder back for Friday’s semifinals ifthe rehab goes according to plan.

For sure, this is prime time for area basketball. If you don’tget enough this weekend, catch the Copiah-Lincoln Community CollegeWolves and Lady Wolves next week in the MACJC State Tournament atCo-Lin.

The Lady Wolves, coached by Gwyn Young, are ranked No. 10 in thenation and play Monday night. The Wolves, coached by Dennis Sims,have secured second place in the South Division race, and will playthe No. 3 team out of the North Tuesday night.

Semifinals are next Wednesday and the championship finals areThursday. Stay tuned.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mailsports@dailyleader.com