BHS basketball tips off Saturday

Published 5:00 am Monday, October 29, 2007

With all-state post players Swayze Black and Nikki Byrd leadingthe way, Brookhaven’s Lady Panthers should have the tallest andmost talented front line in Mississippi. The 6-2 Byrd has made anoral commitment to sign with Ole Miss next month and the 6-1 Blackhas committed to LSU.

Brookhaven’s girls and boys make their debut Saturday in theNorth Pike Classic at Summit. The Lady Panthers meet Tylertown 3p.m. and the Panthers play Tylertown’s boys at 4:30.

Whitley Shannon, a 6-foot senior, is the third member of OleBrook’s towering front line. The main problem for Coach Fred Craftis the guard position where three starters graduated. They includedpoint guard Monte’ Wilson and guards Kayla Harris and JermeciaJones.

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Ashley Gayten, a junior forward; and Amber Dickey, a guard, arebright prospects with some varsity experience.

“A lot depends on how our young guards develop,” said Craft.Dickey is the leader at point guard. Other guard candidates areKiearra Collins and Ma’leysia Burnett.

Chastidy Sandifer serves as assistant coach and freshman teamcoach.

“Our post players have improved a lot with experience,” saidCraft. “We will probably use Swayze at guard. We hope that ourninth graders will be mature enough by the time our divisionschedule starts.”

Byrd averaged 16.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game last season.Black averaged 13.2 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocked shots pergame. Shannon (5.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg) was a key player in the paint.

Asked about the Division 6-4A race, Craft said Forest Hill andMcComb should be strong contenders for the division title.

Craft is in her second year at the helm. She directed her teamto the Class 4A state championship game last season and a 32-6record. The Lady Panthers lost to Indianola Gentry which finished40-0.

Panthers Shorthanded

BHS boys coach Ronald Hines is anxious to start the season buthe will be shorthanded. Three standouts, Charles Rancifer, SimmieYarborough and Marcus McGee, are returning starters for thePanthers. However, they all are starters for the football team andmight not be available until December.

Rancifer, a 6-foot-2 guard, was named to the DL’s All-LincolnCounty Team as a junior. He averaged 18.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and4 assists per game last season as the Panthers finished 12-18.

Yarborough, a 6-foot senior, averaged 11.4 points and 4.6rebounds per game. McGee (3.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg), a sophomore, can playeither guard or center. Keenan Richardson, a senior, averaged 3.5ppg.

Hines said his varsity team members have plenty of experience.”I’ve been here six years and we have kids with three years ofbasketball experience. That should help us a lot.”

Hines said Marvin Thomas, Seth Shannon, Desmond Arnold and ChadHall all have experience. His assistant coaches are Cliff Furr andAndrae Carter.

Forest Hill, runner-up in the Class 5A state tournament lastseason, dropped down to Class 4A, following reclassification. TheRebels are heavy favorites to win the Region 6-4A title.

The Brookhaven Invitational is set for Nov. 15-17. Joining BHSare South Pike, Crystal Springs, Amite County and WilkinsonCounty.