Lady Panthers to meet Columbus in 5A Semifinals on Tues

Published 9:25 pm Monday, February 28, 2022


For a third straight season, the Brookhaven High Lady Panthers are one of the final four remaining teams in the MHSAA 5A State Tournament.

Brookhaven High (24-5) is scheduled to take on Columbus High (22-4) Tuesday at 4 p.m. with a trip to the state championship game on the line. Neshoba Central (31-0) and West Jones (23-4) will play in the other semifinal at 6 p.m.

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After beating Hattiesburg High at home in the opening round, BHS won two road games to punch its ticket to the Mississippi Coliseum aka the Big House.

Friday, coach Preston Wilson’s team went to Jones County and came back with a 53-44 win over Laurel High (17-11) in the quarterfinals.

Junior guard Angel “Cookie” Wilkinson led BHS with 29 points in the win over Laurel. Wilkinson also pulled down seven rebounds along with grabbing three steals.

“We extended a 1-3-1 defense out and were really able to keep pressure on their wings,” said Wilson. “Our tempo and pressure were a big part of us controlling the game.”

Senior Kyja Willis added nine points and eight rebounds and sophomore forward Aliyah Watkins scored eight points and netted eight rebounds too. Junior center Leah Wilcher scored four points while senior guard Aniyah Cook scored two points and junior Raven Smith added one point. The 5-foot-3 Cook led the team with 10 total rebounds.

Columbus beat Canton 58-33 in its quarterfinal game.

Brookhaven High and Columbus last met March 6, 2020 — a 55-51 win for CHS in the 5A championship game played that year in Oxford.

“They’ve got a couple guards that are their leading players,” said Wilson of Columbus High. “We’re hoping for a good crowd of our fans to be there and the key for us is playing our style of basketball and getting good minutes from our bench.”