Pair of Brookhaven Panthers chart their basketball futures
Published 9:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2023
The Brookhaven High School girls’ basketball team is one that has stayed at a championship level for a number of years.
A key for coach Preston Wilson in staying among the best MHSAA 5A teams in the state is having student-athletes that are good enough to play ball on the next level.
On Tuesday at BHS, two foundational pieces of the girls’ basketball team made their college choices official by signing letters-of-intent.
Senior guard Angel “Cookie” Wilkinson inked with Tallahassee Community College while senior center Leah Wilcher signed to next play at Pearl River Community College.
Wilkinson has been a dynamic playmaker for the Panthers since joining the varsity team as a freshman. She was named the 2022 Daily Leader All-Area MVP after helping to lead BHS to the state semifinals last year. Wilkinson was also selected to play in the annual MAC All-Star game after her junior season.
This season, Wilkinson averaged over 20 points per game for a 26-5 Brookhaven High team. She led BHS in scoring as a sophomore, junior and senior.
“She’s somebody that really loves the game of basketball,” said Wilson of Wilkinson. “Putting in the work to get better at her craft is something that she takes very seriously. I think that’s what’s really going to push her to rise to the competition in what’s probably the best junior college league in the nation.”
Tallahassee CC plays in the ultra-tough Panhandle Conference, which is made up of Pensacola State College, Northwest Florida State, Gulf Coast State College and Chipola College.
The Eagles are trying to bounce back from a 2-25 record last season. Tallahassee won the NJCAA National Championship in 2018.
To give an idea of how loaded the Panhandle Conference is, Gulf Coast has won one national championship since TCC won in 2018 and NW Florida State has won two of the last three national titles including the 2023 tournament.
The 6-foot-3 Wilcher was similarly recruited as was Wilkinson by most of the Mississippi community colleges that make up the MACCC.
She’ll join a Pearl River program that went 24-3 last season and lost in the Region 23 Tournament championship to Jones College.
This season for the Panthers, Wilcher averaged over 10 rebounds per game and was one of the best shot blockers in MHSAA 5A basketball.
Wilcher was beloved during her time at BHS as evidence by being voted the 2022 Homecoming Queen by her peers. On the court, she was picked to play in the prestigious Mississippi/Alabama All-Star game for Team Mississippi.
“Leah still has a lot of upside when you’re talking about her development,” said Wilson. “She’s gotten more aggressive throughout her career. If she continues to work and grow, she’s going to have all types of opportunities to keep playing the game.”