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Lady Tigers rally past BHS

MCCOMB – Foul trouble and McComb’s pressure defense took Brookhaven’s Lady Panthers out of their game plan Friday night. Those two key factors resulted in McComb posting a 54-42 win over Brookhaven in the Region 6-5A Tournament championship game, sparked by senior sisters Angelique and Angeline Earl with 16 and 13 points respectively.

It was the fourth meeting of the season between the ancient rivals and the third win for McComb, now 20-8. Most importantly, the victory gave McComb the advantage of hosting a first round South State playoff game Monday night. The Lady Tigers will host Moss Point, the Region 8-5A runner-up.

Brookhaven (21-7) must travel for the opening round. The Panthers and Lady Panthers, both tournament runners-up, are expected to play at Pascagoula Tuesday night.

The Lady Panthers started strong but senior playmaker Christen Benson encountered first-quarter foul trouble. She had 3 personal fouls at the end of the first quarter and sat out 5 minutes of the second frame.

McComb erased an early 10-1 deficit and took the lead at 20-18 on a trey by Angeline Earl with 4:01 left in the first half. Benson picked up her fourth personal foul with 2:05 remaining in the first half.

Coach Angelina Johnson knew her Lady Tigers faced a towering Brookhaven post game. She placed her team in a pressure defense and the BHS turnovers began mounting, especially with Benson on the bench.

“Brookhaven has a lot of big (players),” said Johnson, “so we had to keep them off guard. We trapped them. Their key player (Benson) got in foul trouble and we took advantage of it.”

Senior forward Reneka Felder collected 13 rebounds and 10 points in the win. Raven Tucker grabbed 9 rebounds.

Ole Brook coach Freda Craft watched her team wilt down the stretch. “We went away from our game plan and lost our momentum. They knew we didn’t have an outside shooter so they collapsed on the inside.”

Benson, the team’s leading scorer, was limited to 6 points and exited on a technical foul with 1:46 left in the game. She was contesting an inbounds pass.

Craft’s crew carried a 34-33 advantage into the fourth quarter when Fredericka Fairman banked a shot off the glass. McComb’s Tucker scored on a short jumper and McComb pulled ahead 35-34 early in the fourth. Angelique Earl cashed in a steal with a layup, pumped in a trey and Angeline Earl sacked a trey from the corner, pushing McComb ahead 43-36. The Lady Tigers reached the free throw bonus and made 9 of 14 charity shots in the final 4:44.

Senior center Carey Crozier scored 10 points to lead Brookhaven. She also had 5 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.

Fairman finished with 8 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals. Archea Brotherns had 8 points and 6 rebounds.

As a team, Brookhaven was slowed by 20 turnovers.