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McComb escapes BHS

Coach Ronald Hines watched with dismay as the McComb Tigersoutscored his Brookhaven Panthers 12-2 in the final 3 minutesFriday night and escaped with a 53-44 triumph in SinclairGymnasium. Two free throws by Keith Johnson had given the Pantherstheir first lead of the game at 42-41 with 2:54 left to play in theDivision 6-4A showdown.

It was a disappointing loss for Hines who had been reinstated ashead basketball coach Wednesday. He had been indefinitely suspendedDec. 1, following an incident outside the BHS gym after the Nov. 18home game against Hazlehurst.

The mother of a Brookhaven player and a Hazlehurst fan had analtercation outside the gym and both were arrested for disturbingthe peace.

Hines, in his seventh year at the helm, was held responsible forthe incident. Brookhaven Superintendent of Education Lee Barrettelected to suspend Hines. She and her husband were present forFriday night’s game.

In a change of venue, all visiting fans were directed to thesouth side stands in the gym, located behind the scoring table andthe sidelines where the players from both teams are seated. Aportable partition, located in the back hallway, was erected in aneffort to separate the opposing teams as they went to theirrespective dressing rooms.

“I was told about the new seating arrangement today,” saidHines.

Assistant coach Jerry Vaughn had coached the Panthers Tuesdaynight at Mendenhall in a triple-overtime, division setback. Vaughnhad been placed in charge of the team when Hines was suspended.

“I was only able to practice them (team) once for this bigrivalry/division game,” said Hines. “It feels good to be backcoaching.”

McComb (7-2, 2-0) got a trey and 2 free throws from LadariusWhite in the spirited comeback. Rayfield Allen cashed in a stealwith a layup and made it a 3-point play, giving the Tigers a 47-42lead.

Asked about the loss to McComb, Hines said, “McComb has a goodteam. When you go on a 12-2 run in the last two minutes, youusually win.”

McComb center Rod Bland had fouled out with 2:54 left to play.That’s when Johnson sacked 2 free throws, giving the Panthers a42-41 lead.

Chad Hall paced the Panthers with 13 points and 6 rebounds, plus2 steals and 2 assists. Donaldmetric Blue added 11 points and 5rebounds.

McComb coach Hilton Harrell said he was happy to escape with avictory over an ancient rival. “We had some kids in foul trouble soI was glad to get a win. Some of our kids stepped up and hit somebig shots. Brown hit a big 3-pointer for us.”

Brown, the only senior on McComb’s young squad, finished with 14points. White, a talented freshman, added 11 points. Devan Gordenalso had 11 points.,

Brookhaven outrebounded McComb 27-21. The Panthers had 23turnovers compared to McComb’s 19. The Panthers made 16 of 35 fieldgoal attempts for 47 percent but didn’t make a trey. The Tigerssacked 6 treys.

McComb took an early 18-8 lead as White sacked a trey and Blandslammed a dunk, making it 5-0 early. The Tigers led 28-19 athalftime before the Panthers got rolling

Brook resumes division play Tuesday night at Port Gibson.