Panthers know they can compete at Region 5-5A tourney

Published 11:00 am Saturday, February 4, 2023

The 2023 edition of Senior Night didn’t go the way of Brookhaven High (10-15) in the boy’s game on Tuesday, as the visiting Ridgeland Titans (16-10) ran out to a second-half lead and a 62-45 win in Sinclair Gymnasium.

RHS led 21-20 at halftime.

Second year BHS head coach Charleton Grey now must refocus his team on the task of taking on top seeded Florence at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the Region 5-5A tournament hosted by West Jones.

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One encouraging note for the Panthers is how closely they played Florence (11-8) in the two regular season meetings between the schools.

On Jan. 20, Florence held off Brookhaven for a 62-61 win in Rankin County.

A week earlier, the Eagles and the Panthers met in Sinclair Gymnasium in a game that felt like it followed a similar script to the loss to Ridgeland this week.

Florence held a slim lead early before pulling ahead in a 75-65 win.

“We’ve been a great first-half team for most of the year,” said Grey. “We still are struggling to come out after halftime and follow the gameplan every night. We did a better job of that against Florence at their place and we had a chance to win the game. It’s going to be crucial for us to stick to doing what works best for us when we play them next week.”

One part of the BHS gameplan will be slowing down 6-foot-4 Florence guard Carter Mullins. Mullins holds offers from multiple junior colleges and is a scoring guard that cocks the ball behind his ear while shooting in a Larry Bird-like motion.

On Tuesday, Grey started seniors Amareon Dunnigan, Tyson Byrd, Trillion Wiliams and JJ Rice along with junior Jaylen Haliburton.

Haliburton is the leading scorer for BHS and had eight points at halftime before being held scoreless in the second half.

Rice, playing in possibly his final game in Sinclair Gymnasium, scored 16 points to lead the Panthers.

Sophomore forward Kordell Collins added nine points, sophomore point guard Jay Ross scored eight points and Williams and Nathan Lewis chipped in two points each for the Panthers.

Natchez High (15-8) and West Jones (8-13) will meet in the other region semifinal on Tuesday.