BA boys know how to win state titles

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 3, 2008

Brookhaven Academy’s boys are 4-time defending Class AA StateBasketball Tournament champions. What can the Cougars do for anencore?

BA boss Dale Watts has coached his share of outstanding teams in14 seasons at the helm. He must find the right pieces of a puzzleto make his latest edition a successful story.

“I’m trying to put this team together,” said Watts. “I have tofigure out their strengths and weaknesses. We look good on paperright now but we have a long way to go.”

Returning starters for the Cougars are Blaine Roberts, a 6-2senior who averaged 16 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5steals per game; and 6-2 senior forward Josh Winborne who averaged11.2 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game last season.Another veteran is Jake Reed, a 6-2 sophomore.

Lost to graduation were starters Cory Dickerson, Daniel Loftonand Sawyer Wallace. The Cougars finished fourth in South State lastseason but made a remarkable state title run at Grenada KirkAcademy, realizing a 4-peat.

Reed started probably 40 percent of games, and Jamison Powell, a6-1 junior, was one of BA’s top eight players last season.

There are three newcomers in Sam Furr, a 6-3 sophomore; JeremyFoster, a 6-foot senior; both transfers from Enterprise; and SidneyChasin, a 6-4 sophomore transfer from Natchez Trinity.

After football season, Watts said he expects 5-11 senior TySmith, 6-3 sophomore Chandler Rogers, 6-3 senior Garrett Posey, 6-0sophomore Alan Michael Allred, and 6-1 sophomore Mark Rushing tojoin the squad. Smith started at point guard but fractured his footlast season.

“We have more length (height) this season,” said Watts. “We arenot real big and we are working hard to get faster.”

Watts will debut his team at home Nov. 11, againstMadison-Ridgeland, one of the Mississippi Private SchoolAssociation’s traditional Class AAA powers.

“I think this team will be very competitive,” said Watts.”Hopefully, we will have some more strength around the basket.”

Lady Cougars Debut

Coach Barry Gray’s Lady Cougars make their debut this week inthe ACCS Girls Classic at Natchez. They’ll play Wednesday andThursday against Natchez Trinity and McComb Parklane.

Gray, 46, lost four starters to graduation off his 33-5 squadthat won district, South state and finished third in the statetourney. The quartet includes guards Betsy Lynch and Kelli Sniderand forwards Hannah Watts and Kellie Brady.

“We graduated 82 percent of our offensive point production,”said Gray, reviewing his statistics sheet. His top returnees areguard Nicole Smith and sophomore center Anna K. Mangold.

Gray said he was counting on Mangold, a 5-11 post player, tocarry much of the scoring and rebounding load.

“This team has a bright future,” said Gray. “It’s a question ofwhen that future arrives. I’ve been impressed with the leadershipprovided by our seniors.

“This will be the deepest team since I’ve been here,” Graynoted. “We are extremely athletic but we are inexperienced.”

He said sophomores Summer Calhoun and Marion Allen and freshmanTera Winborne are the team’s best shooters.

In his 13th season at the helm, Gray’s last state title came in2005. His teams have played in 8 of the last 10 state championshipgames and won 6. They were MPSA Overall champs in 2004.

This is probably the second most-difficult schedule we’ve hadsince I’ve been coaching here,” said Gray. His wife, Lindy, is hisassistant coach.