Rebels escape Panthers

Published 6:00 am Friday, February 8, 2008

For a brief period in the third quarter, Brookhaven’s Panthersappeared to have the Forest Hill Rebels on the ropes. But like aheavyweight boxing champion, the Rebels got off the canvas, eraseda 9-point deficit and beat the Panthers 65-54 Tuesday night inSinclair Gymnasium as an estimated crowd of 900 witnessed thecomeback.

Forest Hill (23-6, 11-0), the Division 6-4A champion, will beseeded No. 1 in next week’s division tournament at Mendenhall. TheRebels, coached by Chad Norton, were state runners-up last yearwhen they competed in Class 5A.

The Panthers (13-16, 6-5) should be seeded third in the divisiontourney. They appeared ready to spring a major upset last night.Leading 26-21 at halftime, BHS went ahead by 9 points, 30-21, whenChad Hall scored inside with 6:59 left in the third.

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Coming to life, the Rebels responded with a 13-0 run. While sixlarge wall fans sucked warm, humid air out of the gym, they took a31-30 lead on point guard Andre Stringer’s steal cashed in for alayup. Stringer followed with a trey and it was 34-30 with 4:56left in the third frame.

Stringer finished with 17 points, sacking 3 treys. CenterTerrell Kennedy muscled inside for 18 points and 4 rebounds. GuardJoshua Moore scored 13 points.

BHS boys coach Ronald Hines said he was disappointed with histeam’s third quarter collapse. “We stunk up the third quarter. Wedidn’t handle the ball well. They rushed us and we mademistakes.”

Hines said his team played well in the first and secondquarters. “Forest Hill is ranked No. 6 in the state. You have toplay four quarters against a team like that.”

Hines said the Panthers had concentrated on slowing down Moorewho sacked 30 points in a 68-54 Rebel victory at Forest Hill lastmonth. “We wanted to keep Moore under 15.”

Offensively, the Panthers were paced by Donaldmetric Blue’s 14points and 4 rebounds. Charles (Bobo) Rancifer added 13 points and6 assists.

BHS hosts Lawrence County Friday for Senior Night in SinclairGymnasium. The varsity girls game tips off at 6 p.m.