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Brookhaven Panthers beat Port Gibson in basketball season opener

The Brookhaven High boys survived a neck-and-neck contest with Port Gibson Saturday, clamping down the Blue Wave offense to pull ahead late and win the first basketball game of the season 66-62.

The Panthers were reeling before a fast Port Gibson attack when junior forward Lafollette Bogan drove in close for a bucket and a foul, hitting his free throw to put Brookhaven back on top 61-60 with 1:26 remaining in the game. Bogan added another bucket after a Port Gibson turnover, and next time down the court the Blue Wave were forced to chase and foul, putting Panthers at the free throw line as the final seconds fell off the clock.

“My teammates were playing good all game and that allowed me to get into good position and get good shots,” Bogan said. “I was just seeing openings and trying to make the right moves.”

The Panthers looked like the team new head coach Marcus Flippin said he would put on the court — a fast-acting defensive team that scored in the 50s, much different from last year’s BHS squad that seemingly scored points at will, but gave up lots of baskets, too.

Bogan’s big two minutes at the end of the game came after Flippin called up a full-court defense, slowing down Port Gibson’s offense and allowing the Panthers to control the game flow just long enough to take and hold the lead.

“Sixty-six points is right where we need to be. I’m really pleased with our first game of the season,” Flippin said. “We’re stressing defense, and we still have a lot to work on. We gave up a lot of three-pointers because young guys don’t yet understand how to close out, but we’ll work it out in practice.”

Bogan scored 32 of the Panthers’ 66 points, hitting three 3-pointers and snagging nine rebounds. Senior teammate Richard Marshall scored 14 points and got nine rebounds of his own. Senior Keith Robinson scored a dozen, freshman La’darius Thrasher scored five and sophomore Piedro Wilson got three points.

Brookhaven dominated Port Gibson in the first quarter 19-10, but the Blue Wave fired back, controlling the second quarter 20-12 and the third quarter 15-14. The final quarter went to the Panthers 21-17.

The game was uncertain late, as Port Gibson collected 19 Ole Brook turnovers and led the game up until Bogan’s and-one turned it around. The Panthers were on the wrong side of the turnover differential, stealing only 10 balls, and other mistakes hurt Brookhaven as well — Port Gibson got a pair of free throws and possession on a technical after two Brookhaven players substituted without informing the officials.

Everyone had a chance to breathe deep and collect their thoughts late. At 41 seconds remaining, play was stopped for an extended amount of time to clean up the court where a Port Gibson player lost his lunch. There was plenty of good food to eat at Jefferson County High School, where the game was played, and someone ate a little too much.

But Brookhaven’s Marshall wasn’t worried about that upheaval — only the ones that hurt his team.

“We had a big lead, but we had too many turnovers and they were getting some good shots,” he said. “We have to work on our defense. We have the right personnel at every position, we just have to get it together.”