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BHS basketball fever becomes epidemic

Basketball fever has reached epidemic proportions at BrookhavenHigh School. The Ole Brook Lady Panthers are on the threshold ofwinning the Class 4A State Tournament championship.

Comparing this enthusiasm to football fever, a pep rally,complete with a bonfire, is planned tonight near BrookwayBoulevard. It will be held on the west side of I-55, located on apiece of property close to Home Depot, but not too close. Actionbegins at 6:30.

There are red and blue outfits everywhere. Don’t forget the redand blue balloons.

The Lady Panthers will tackle undefeated Indianola Gentry Fridayat 1 p.m. in the title game. The Mississippi Coliseum in Jacksonshould be jumping with energy.

Ole Brook first-year head coach Freda Craft has done anoutstanding job with the Lady Panthers. They play hard and theyplay with enthusiasm.

In junior centers Nikki Byrd and Swayze Black, BHS boasts two ofthe best players in the Magnolia State, The Twin Towers have plentyof help, too.

Whitley Shannon, a 6-foot junior, can shoot and rebound withauthority, too. The backcourt is led by senior guards Monte’Wilson, Jermecia Jones and Kayla Harris.

Oh, by the way, the BHS girls should have some added incentive.Gentry knocked off Brook last year in the state quarterfinals.

Ole Brook athletic director and head football coach TuckerPeavey said he is enjoying the team’s success. “Even I get nervouswhen the games get to this point,” said Peavey. “There’s no doubtabout it, Coach Craft has done a good job.”

Peavey, whose football Panthers won a state championship in2004, recognizes the value of teamwork. He said the Lady Panthershave team chemistry.

“They are playing as a team and performing well as individuals,”said Peavey. “They are all chipping in like they need to.”

Personally, we haven’t seen this much enthusiasm for the BHSbasketball team since 1984. That was the glorious year when theLady Panthers went 40-0 and claimed the AA state championship. Theybeat Meridian in the finals.

Looking back 23 years, that undefeated BHS squad was coached byTommy Goodson. The Lady Panthers were led by All-American centerChana Perry, a 6-foot-4, 198-pound tower of power. Perry could runthe floor, too, and was recognized as National Player of the Yearby Parade Magazine.

That was back before the 3-point field goal. We remember Perryshowing her outside marksmanship on several occasions.

There were two 6-foot sophomores in Goodson’s starting lineup,Annette Jackson and Ann Sanders. Both of them wound up playing SECbasketball, Jackson at LSU and Sanders at Mississippi State.

Ann Wilson, a 5-4 playmaker with blazing speed and quickness,worked at point guard. You could always count on her to break thefull-court press. She was a southpaw with a nice shootingtouch.

Another stalwart in the lineup was Emma Dixon who played meandefense and rebounded with vigor.

Also on the BHS squad were Liz Case, Dwana Lea, Miranda Case,Dixie Diggs, Cindy Wesley, Holly Edmonds, Michelle Rush, AnnetteGholar, Cathy Cunningham, Cynthia Smith, Karen Massengill, ErinBrumfield and Carmen McCall. Serving as an assistant coach wasCharlotte Creely.

If you like statistics, BHS beat Meridian 47-33 in thechampionship finals after eliminating Harrison Central in thesemifinals. The title game was played at A.E. Wood Coliseum on theMississippi College campus in Clinton.

Perry scored 24 points. Wilson bagged 15 points, despite asprained ankle suffered in the Harrison Central win.

What happened next?

Goodson would take an assistant coaching job at LSU on Coach SueGunter’s staff and Perry would sign a scholarship with NortheastLouisiana University after a bitter recruiting battle. Northeastbecame the first women’s basketball program to be placed on NCAAprobation because of several illegal violations.

Perry would transfer to San Diego State University after beingdeclared ineligible by the NCAA. She had a great career at SanDiego State and recently was inducted into the university’sathletic hall of fame.

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