• 66°

BA Cougars win big over Leake in opening round

The Brookhaven Academy Cougars are alive and kicking in the MPSAClass AA State Basketball Tournament. Powered by Jake Reed’sdouble-double of 22 points and 14 rebounds, the Cougars roared to a73-44 Tuesday night victory over Leake Academy in John R. GrayGymnasium.

Reed was joined in double digits by Josh Winborne with 15 pointsand Jamison Powell with another double-double of 12 points and 11rebounds.

For the Cougars (28-9), the victory erased all memories of lastweek’s dismal showing in the South State AA Tournament at Gallmanwhere they finished fourth. The win also gave them a berth inFriday night’s semifinals, meeting Clarksdale Lee at 7:15.

Lee upset Natchez Trinity 47-39 yesterday in the other openinground boys game. Today’s boys games send Bowling Green (La.)against Marshall at 5:15 and Canton Academy againstChamberlain-Hunt at 7:45.

Brookhaven Academy’s Lady Cougars face their first statetournament test tonight, meeting Indianola at 6:30. In the othergirls game, Marshall plays Prairie View at 4.

In girls action yesterday, North No. 1 Leake eliminated Trinity69-50 and South No. 1 Oak Forest (La.) trampled Yazoo CityManchester 66-22.

The Cougars, 4-time defending state champions, concentrated ondefense when they tackled the No. 1 seeded Rebels (22-13). Wearingblack uniforms trimmed in blue, the Cougars used a stickyman-to-man defense to push Leake out of its game plan.

“I was extremely pleased with our performance,” said BA coachDale Watts. “We played poorly last week but we did a good jobagainst Leake.

“Leake can shoot the threes but our defense was really good,” headded. The Cougars dominated the backboards, outrebounding theRebels 42-22. They also shot 51 percent from the field.

Winborne, 1 of 3 seniors in BA’s starting lineup, hit a baselinejumper and a driving layup to ignite the Cougars as they erased anearly 5-0 deficit with a 10-0 run.

“We played a lot of team ball. We passed the ball and ran ouroffense,” said Winborne. “On defense, we wanted to stop (Leake’s)dribble penetration. We knew they had some shooters, too.”

Asked about his team’s chances at winning a fifth straighttitle, Winborne said, “We were in the same spot last year. We justhave to take it one game at a time.”

The Rebels watched Reed work overtime on the backboards in thesecond quarter. He grabbed 5 rebounds and scored 6 of his points asthe Cougars authored 6-0 and 5-0 runs.

Senior Blaine Roberts handed out 6 assists, scored 9 points andgrabbed 5 rebounds in the victory.

Leake coach Phil Shepherd said the Cougars outhustled his team.”Brookhaven looked hungrier than we did. We didn’t come to playwith a lot of intensity.”

The Rebels got 15 points from Brian Saxon and 11 from AustinByrd.

The Cougars claimed a 19-point, 43-24 lead midway through thethird quarter when Sydney Chaffin sacked a trey and Reed cashed in2 free throws. As a team, they had 18 turnovers compared to Leake’s17.