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Lady Cougars advance to state title game with 42-33 win over Lamar Christian

BA girls play Saturday for tops in AA, will play in MAIS Overall next week

Brookhaven Academy’s Lady Cougars are headed to the AA state championship Saturday after holding off Lamar Christian 42-33 Friday afternoon.

The home team survived a strong comeback attempt from the Lady Lions late in the game, leaning on a 12-point lead carried into the fourth quarter to absorb an assault that closed to within three points with less than two minutes remaining. A full-court run and layup by senior Kailyn Jordan and four good free throws from junior Jana Case preserved the lead and the right to move on in the MAIS AA State Tournament.

“They beat us the first time, but it just motivated us to do better, and we were out to get them today,” Case said. “We played together today and gave it our best.”

The Lady Cougars appeared to be in control of the game as the final period began, but the Lady Lions’ six-strong roster played breathlessly, and with tenacity on defense, to force the BA girls into some uncomfortable situations.

Brookhaven’s girls committed only a dozen turnovers throughout the game, but several came in the last eight minutes under intense pressure from Lamar Christian. The Lady Lions also planted their flag underneath the basket and ripped off a series of offensive rebounds in the game’s final moments, trying to close up the scoreboard as the clock changed from minutes to seconds.

It wasn’t enough. Overall, the Lady Cougars’ defense stood strong with 19 defensive boards and five steals. On offense, eighth-grader Anne Brantley Warren dished out a team-high four of Brookhaven’s eight assists, most of which went to Case, who provided most of the offense with 22 points.

“We kept our composure and kept up our hustle,” Jordan said. “We knew we had to make shots to keep us ahead, where we needed to be.”

Lady Cougars coach Jason Case praised Lamar Christian’s effort, singling out the skill of Lady Lions junior Rebekah Engle and sophomore Catherine Hannabass. The pair combined for 23 of their team’s 33 points.

“They are a very good team with a lot of experience, and our girls did a great job defending them,” Case said. “I told our players you have to believe in order to win, and I saw that they believed in the way they played.”

The victory earns BA the right to face Marshall Academy in the MAIS AA State Championship. The game will be Saturday, Feb. 24, at 2:15 p.m. at Brookhaven Academy.

Case said the plan for the title match is the same it’s been all year.

“We have a game plan, a simple plan — we’ll put forth great effort with great attitude,” he said. “That’s what I expect.”

After Jana Case’s 22 points, Jordan, junior Macy Grace Smith and Warren followed with six points each, while senior Cameron Watson topped off Lady Cougars’ scoring with two points.

For Lamar Christian, Hannabass scored a dozen and Engle scored 11. Juniors Rachel Pitts and Becca Chatham scored six and four points, respectively, to round out Lady Lions’ scoring.

A win tomorrow will earn the Lady Cougars a first-round bye in the 2018 MAIS Overall Basketball Tournament, to be played at Mississippi College Feb. 26-28 and March 2 and 3.

The Brookhaven girls will advance to the big tournament either way, but a loss against Marshall will put them in the first round against the No. 2 team from the A division.