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BA in must-win situation today

It’s now or never for Brookhaven Academy. The BA Cougars andLady Cougars place their basketball futures on the line today inthe MPSA South State AA Tournament quarterfinals at Copiah Academyin Gallman.

The Lady Cougars (31-4), coached by Barry Gray, tackle AdamsCounty Christian School at 4 p.m. today. The Cougars (26-7), underthe direction of Coach Dale Watts, meet River Oaks (La.) at 7:30.Both BA teams captured their respective District 4-AA Tournamenttitles in convincing fashion.

The bottom line. Losers of today’s games are finished. InBrookhaven Academy’s case, that would be a disaster.

BA is hosting the MPSA Class AA State Tournament next week inrefurbished John R. Gray Gymnasium. The home team has got to bethere.

Not to worry. Both BA teams are among the best in theMississippi Private School Association. They have talent and depth.Most importantly, they have outstanding coaches who have won theirshare of state championships.

Watts is directing the Cougars in their quest for a fifthconsecutive state championship. They don’t have a lock on thecoveted title but they certainly are favored. However, Watts willtell you the first order of business is beating River Oakstonight.

“River Oaks has a really nice team with some good athletes,”said Watts. “They will be a good test for us tonight. They are awell-coached team, too.”

A win by the BA teams will place them in Friday’s semifinals.That means win or lose Friday, they will play Saturday, either inthe consolation or championship games. It also means they will bein next week’s state tournament.

Brookhaven Academy is known across the state for its hospitalityduring state tournament week. The Hospitality Lounge is second tonone. The gym provides seating for approximately 1,300 fans. It’s agreat basketball atmosphere. Call it Cougarific!

Still on basketball, Thursday is a big night for the public orMississippi High School Activities Association teams. On the localscene, division tournament semifinals are on tap at Enterprise(6-2A) and West Lincoln (8-1A). Amite County at Liberty is hosting7-3A semifinals tonight

Meanwhile, the Brookhaven Panthers are going strong in theDivision 6-4A Tournament at Jackson Forest Hill. The Panthers(12-13), coached by Ronald Hines, tackle No. 1 seed Forest Hilltonight at 8:30 in the semifinals.

The Panthers, seeded No. 5, reached the semis by knocking offNo. 4 seed Florence 72-60 Tuesday. BHS will play again Friday ineither the consolation or championship games. They’ll also playnext Tuesday in the opening round of the South Mississippiplayoffs.

Speaking of playoffs, West Lincoln’s boys and Bogue Chitto’sgirls have been designated as host teams for the South Mississippiquarterfinals and finals, Feb. 19-21. It’s important for the Bearsand Lady ‘Cats to win their opening round games so they’ll bepresent next Thursday on their home floors.

Unfortunately, home teams often lose on Thursday. That equalsdepleted attendance for the semifinals and finals, not to mentiongreatly reduced ticket sales.

Speaking of tickets, the All-American Football Foundation’s 99thBanquet of Champions is scheduled Monday Feb. 16, at the JacksonHilton. Tickets are $125 each.

The reception starts at 6 p.m. and dinner is 6:45.

Brookhaven native Jimmie McDowell serves as the AAFF ExecutiveDirector.

This banquet’s theme is The Field Generals of the Glory Years,1947-63 at Ole Miss. Rebel quarterbacks like Charlie Conerly,Farleyu Salmon, Jimmy Lear, Eagle Day, Raymond Brown, BobbyFranklin, Jake Gibbs, Doug Elmore and Glynn Griffing will behonored.

Brookhaven Academy coach Herbert Davis will be among four highschool coaches receiving the President Gerald R. Ford All-AmericanHigh School Coach Award. Other honorees are Larry Weems ofMeridian, Lance Pogue of South Panola and Bobby Hall of MadisonCentral.

Another award, one of many to be presented, is the EagleDay-Bill Wade Unsung Hero Award. It will got to Herbert Ray Noblesof Mississippi Southern and Paul Dogieux and Bob (Red) Owens of OleMiss.

Tickets to the event can be obtained by contacting McDowell at601-206-8877. The Foundation is a tax exempt, non-profitorganization that also awards 11 Colonel Red Blaik LeadershipScholarships to outstanding seniors each year.

Past Blaik honorees include Payton and Eli Manning, DeuceMcAllister and Reggie Bush.,

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O. BOX551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mail sports@dailyleader.com