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Cougars capture thriller

Lawrence County coach Preston Wilson had a plan and it worked.Guard Leroy Fifer dished off to teammate Khalid Baylis for abaseline layup that lifted the Cougars to a thrilling 68-66 Fridaynight victory over Brookhaven’s Panthers in Sinclair Gymnasium. Thewinner came with 3 seconds left to play.

“We told Leroy to get penetration,” said Wilson. “We ran it(play) to perfection.”

Earlier in the final quarter, Fifer received a gash on hisforehead when he hit the floor and someone stepped on him. Hereturned just in time to deliver the winning formula.

The Cougars hiked their record to 9-10 overall and 2-4 in theDivision 6-4A race. Brookhaven fell to 7-10 overall and remainedwinless in 5 division outings.

“It’s always good to get a win over your rival,” said Wilson. Hecoached at BHS in the late 1990s, his final season 2000.

The Panthers claimed an 11-point, 39-28 halftime lead on alast-second trey, a turnaround jumper by guard Rejavian Stewart onan inbounds play. He finished with 6 treys but was unable to make afree throw.

Struggling at the charity line, the Panthers made just 9 of 23free shots. Center Fred Fairman misfired twice with the score tied66-all and 26 seconds left to play. The second free throw attemptspun out of the rim.

The Cougars outscored BHS 23-14 in the third quarter and foundthemselves down 53-51 starting the final 8 minutes of action. Theytook the lead at 59-58 on a putback by Matthew Wells with 5:01 leftto play.

Forward Ladarius Jenkins ignited the comeback, hitting 4second-half treys. He scored 17 of his -game high 19 points in thesecond half.

Wells, a 6-2 junior who was named Most Valuable Player on theAll-Division 6-4A Football Team, scored 17 points and snared 8rebounds. David Haynes added 14 points.

BHS coach Ronald Hines said he was disappointed with his team’spoor free throw shooting and the officiating. “Referees can makethe difference. We were called for stepping in the lane about fivetimes,” on free throw attempts.

The Panthers suffered 30 turnovers, compared to 14 for LCHS.Fairman had 6 rebounds for the Panthers.

BHS resumes play Friday night at McComb as division action heatsup. The boys will participate in the MLK Classic Jan. 19 atMississippi College, meeting Ridgeland at 3:30 p.m.

The Cougars host Florence Tuesday night for a divisiondoubleheader.