Lady Panthers must erase Gentry’s Bug

Published 6:00 am Thursday, March 8, 2007

Bug control.

The first challenge for Brookhaven’s Lady Panthers is to handleIndianola Gentry’s talented point guard, Sarita “Bug” Cooper. Howwell they cope with the pesky 5-foot-5 Cooper could determine theoutcome of Friday’s Class 4A State Tournament championship game.Tipoff is 1 p.m. in Jackson’s Mississippi Coliseum.

Gentry has cruised to a perfect 37-0 record thus far, sparked byCooper, the only senior on the squad. The Lady Rams eliminateddefending state champion Wayne County 69-55 Monday in thesemifinals as the Cooper dazzled the crowd with 20 points, 10assists and 4 steals.

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“Gentry has a lot of speed and they have an outstanding pointguard in Cooper,” said Ole Brook coach Freda Craft. “We must try toslow them down. We want to keep them from penetrating and forcethem to take the outside shot.”

Asked about strategy against Gentry’s full-court pressure, Craftsaid, “Our game plan is to pass the ball and use our big girls toget the ball down the floor. If we put it on the floor, they(Gentry) are coming for it.”

Championship fever has infected the student body at BHS. Schoolis being dismissed at 11:15, so students and teachers can make thedrive to Jackson.

“We are excited about playing for the state championship,” saidCraft. “I really believe we have a good chance to win it if we staypositive and do the things we are expected to.”

Against Wayne County, the Lady Rams got 22 points and 12rebounds from junior forward Veronica Walker. Sophomore postLaneisha Johnson added 13 points.

“They have a wide body inside,” said Craft. “They have two girlsabout 5-11.”

Craft watched her team (32-5) shoot the ball well againstJackson Callaway in last Saturday night’s 61-56 semifinals win.Byrd poured in 25 points before fouling out. Jermecia Jones shotfrom the wing and netted 14 points. Swayze Black added 11 points, 9rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocked shots.

Seniors Monte’ Wilson at point guard and Kayla Harris at forwardalso start for BHS.

“I’m pretty comfortable with our shooting,” said Craft. “We gotadjusted.”

Ole Brook athletic director Tucker Peavey said he was proud ofthe team and their accomplishments. “The girls have done well andthe excitement goes along with it. A championship season has aneffect on everybody in the school.”

Tickets are $10 each. The MHSAA championship games will betelevised.

Panther Paws: Tomorrow’s title game will be arematch of last year’s quarterfinals match. Gentry rallied for a62-49 victory, paced by Shermekia Mitchell’s 19 points. Byrd scored23 points and Blanche Wilson 12 for BHS.