Academy boys stun Central Private Rebels
COLUMBIA — Brookhaven Academy fans packed the Columbia AcademyGym Thursday night to support the Cougars as they faced thedaunting task of taking on powerful Central Private, La. in anelimination game of the MAIS Class AA South State Tournament.Brookhaven Academy head coach Dale Watts knew that his team wouldhave to play a perfect game against the Rebels and execute his gameplan perfectly to have a chance at moving on.
The Cougars did just that, playing one of the most remarkable gamesin memory and pulling off the huge upset win 29-25 over the heavilyfavored Rebels.
The Cougars had faced the top-ranked Rebels in the championshipgame of the Brookhaven Holiday Invitational Tournament on Dec. 31,losing a lop-sided 73-53 game that wasn’t as close as the scoreindicated.
Brookhaven improves to just 15-9 overall.
Central Private, the unanimous favorite to be the team to breakBrookhaven’s state title streak, ends its season with a 27-3record.
In girls action, Brookhaven overcame a sluggish start to cruise toa 56-15 win over Central Private and reach today’ssemifinals.
Due to winter snow in North Mississippi, the North State AATournament was delayed one day. That pushes the start of the week’sstate tournament forward one day, from Tuesday to Wednesday.
BA 29, Central Private 25
“We knew we had to execute our game plan perfectly.” said Watts.”They whipped us pretty good in our tournament and they have somevery athletic kids.
“But I can’t say enough about my guys. They worked hard in practiceand kept their composure with the game being close the whole way.We wanted the right to be able to play on farther into the seasonand we got it.”
Watts’ game plan was simple-keep the ball away from thehigh-scoring Rebels. His players executed that plan flawlessly asBrookhaven’s ball-control strategy led to a slow paced15-11halftime score. More impressively, the Cougars kept the Rebels offthe scoreboard for the entire third quarter, going into the finalframe tied at 15.
Time after time, senior forward Sidney Chaffin and sophomoreforward Gage Posey slipped behind the Rebels defense and foundlayups, sending the large partisan crowd into a frenzy.
Brookhaven claimed the lead for good with three minutes left on alayup from Jeff Rushing to make the score 19-18. The Rebelsdangerous 3-point shooting couldn’t get the job done in the finalminutes as Rushing made two big free throws in the final minute andan even bigger rebound in the waning seconds to preserve thewin.
Posey led Brookhaven with a game-high 11 points. Chaffin followedwith 8 points and four rebounds in support. Rushing dished out fourassists.
Taylor Fletcher led Central Private with 8 points..
Brookhaven 56 Central Private 15
The Lady Rebels tried the same delay tactic used by Watts, butcoach Barry Gray’s Lady Cougars made sure that they took care ofbusiness in notching the easy win.
“We started out slow and a little rusty after a two-week layoff,but they picked it up after the first quarter.” said Gray. “I wasproud of their effort. I think we’ll be a little more preparedmentally as we move on.”
Guard Terah Winborne scored a game-high 16 points and collected 4steals. Center Anna Katelyn Mangold scored 15 points and pulleddown 7 rebounds to lead the Lady Cougars as they improved to 25-3on the year and advance to meet host Columbia Academy today at 2:15in the semifinal round. Win or lose, all four semifinalists playSaturday, either in the consolation or championship games.
Mary Lindsey Magee scored 7 points and pulled down 6 rebounds andLaura Beth Wright added 7 points and 5 rebounds for BA.
Central Private was led by Jessica Creel’s 10 points.