Panthers prevail over Natchez; girls fall

Published 12:45 am Sunday, January 12, 2014

Editor Note: The following story was written by REINA KEMPT / The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ – The Brookhaven Panthers and the Natchez High Lady Bulldogs secured a split in their first Region 6-5A match-up Friday night.

In the girls’ contest, the Lady Bulldogs overcame a sloppy first half to knock off the Lady Panthers 57-38.

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In the boys’ action, the Panthers used their size and athletic ability to secure a 59-53 victory over the Bulldogs.

Brookhaven returns to action Tuesday and hosts the Jefferson County Tigers in a pair of non-divisional games. The Lady Panthers are set to begin at 6 p.m., followed by the boys.

Natchez will welcome Lanier High School for a non-regional contest beginning at 6 p.m. for the girls and at 7:30 p.m. for the boys.

Natchez 57, Brookhaven 38 

Natchez High School head coach Alphaka Moore used one word to describe her team’s performance against Brookhaven High School Friday night: horrible.

The Lady Bulldogs played a sloppy first half that was full of turnovers and missed lay-ups but still managed to pull out a 57-38 win.

“It was the worst game of the season,” Moore said. “Everything they didn’t do (in the game) are things we go over every day. It’s all mental, but they have to make up in their minds to do it.”

Seniors Kiana Jones and Marquita Wallace made the difference in the game. Jones recorded a triple double as she scored 16 points, brought down 12 rebounds and took away 10 steals in the contest. Wallace recorded six points, all in the fourth quarter on put-back lay-ups and clutch free throws.

Jessica Wilson paced the Lady Panthers in scoring with 11 points.

Natchez built an early 8-0 lead on Jones’ put-back lay-up at the 4:39 mark. But Brookhaven ended the quarter on a 6-3 run that ended on Chantel Quarles’s lay-up off of a Brookhaven steal, making it 11-6 after one.

Natchez went into the locker room ahead 21-14 and were able to take a double-digit lead in the third quarter on Jones’ put back.

Kynitria Hill put up an offensive rebound for Brookhaven to inch within single digits again, 25-17.

The Lady Bulldogs went into the fourth quarter ahead 38-27 and were able to put the Lady Panthers away with a 19-point fourth quarter.

Brookhaven head coach Freda Craft said her players now know what happens when they don’t give maximum effort.

“We just got out hustled, and we got out rebounded,” she said. “We let tiredness take over instead of heart saying, ‘I’m going to do what I can do to win.’

“I told my players if we don’t do any better and start getting ready to play in practice instead of playing in practice, we’re going to keep losing like this,” she said.

Brookhaven 59, Natchez 53 

The Bulldogs were undersized against the Panthers, and it played a big role in the game between the two teams Friday night.

The Panthers managed to pull away in the second quarter when they outscored NHS 20-10 to go into halftime ahead 34-22. In the third quarter, the Panthers continued to roll as the Bulldogs found themselves down by double figures, 47-35.

Natchez managed to shift the momentum into their favor at the five-minute mark to cut the lead to 49-40.

Gary Woods scored the Bulldogs’ next five points on a lay-up and a pull-up three-pointer to bring them within 50-47. At the 2:10 mark, the Bulldogs took a one-point lead on De’Arius Griffin’s reverse lay-up in traffic.

But Brookhaven went on a 6-0 run, capped off by Damarius Brooks’ two clutch free throws with 32.9 seconds left that gave the Panthers a 56-51 lead, and the Bulldogs couldn’t recover.

Brookhaven head coach Preston Wilson said his players didn’t play consistently, but they were able to pull out the win in hostile territory.

“We got out early, and our press was very successful in the ball game, but towards the end, we didn’t take care of the ball and they were able to make a run,” he said. “We just had to settle down. Down the stretch, we made some big free throws, and that’s where you win the ballgame.”

NHS assistant coach David Haywood said his team’s sluggish first half hurt them a lot.

“We played in a funk tonight; we weren’t sharp and crisp,” Haywood said. “We came in at halftime, and I said, ‘You have to lay it on the line, because this is for the top spot in the district.”

Khalil Newton put up 17 points for the Panthers, and Lazorian McNulty added 11 points.

Griffin led the Bulldogs with 17 points, while Woods tallied 12 points.