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Piney Woods bags Bears; West Lincoln girls prevail

Piney Woods played like the strongest boys team in Class 1A this season in Friday night’s 65-51 win over the host West Lincoln Bears. However, the Tornadoes are going nowhere in the playoffs because of a 3-year probation imposed by the Mississippi High School Activities Association.

     In the varsity girls game, West Lincoln’s Lady Bears prevailed 61-37 in a grueling, physical battle more suited for a football field than Jack Case Gymnasium.

     West Lincoln hosts Franklin County Monday night for a varsity twinbill, starting with a JV boys game at 5.

     The Bears (12-2) faced their first Region 7-1A opponent in Piney Woods. The Tornadoes (4-6) played their first 1A foe of the season after battling Class 6A and 5A opponents.

     Dwight Coleby, a muscular 6-foot-9, 220-pound senior post who has signed with Ole Miss, made his massive presence a big factor in the paint. He blocked 6 shots, scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

     Prince Cooper, a 6-3 senior forward, led the Tornadoes with 20 points, including 2 treys. He also had 5 rebounds. Cooper’s putback pushed PW’s lead to 20 points, 56-36, 6:14 left in the game. Senior guard Christian Lane had 13 points.

     West Lincoln struggled with 7, first-quarter turnovers and trailed 20-14. The Bears were down by 10 points, 39-29, at halftime.

     “Piney Woods shot the ball really well,” said West Lincoln coach Lane Young. “Our guards didn’t shoot the ball at all. They put a lot of pressure on us.      “Offensively, we were horrible,” Young added. “We should be able to score more than 65 points.”

     The Bears got 15 points from forward Lucas Burris and 14 from guard Jared Case.

     Coach Tyrone Haley’s team forged a 19-point, 65-46 lead with 1:51 left to play and he began clearing his bench.

     The Lady Bears (7-7) overcame PW’s bruising, scratching defense as guard Destiny Allen sacked 21 points and 15 rebounds. Guard Katie Hester chipped in 16 points.

     “The girls game was rough and we missed a bunch of free throws,” said Young.

     The partisan crowd seated in the bleachers behind the Piney Woods bench irritated Coach Haley.  At the 5:27 mark of the third quarter, and PW trailing 42-24, Haley turned to the crowd, raised his right fist and extended his middle finger in contempt.

     Haley called a game official over to his bench for a conference and play was halted. West Lincoln athletic director Andrew Redd, principal Jason Case and Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing huddled with the officials and Haley for a moment.

     Play resumed and the fans were more subdued. West Lincoln earned the double-bonus at the free throw line with 4:24 left in the game. However, the Lady Bears couldn’t add much to their 20-point, 54-34 lead, making just 3 of 12 free throws down the stretch.

     Senior point guard Raven Thompson led  the PW girls with a game-high 32 points, plus 6 rebounds.