Brookhaven High Panthers win fourth in a row with rout of Lawrence County

Published 6:00 pm Saturday, December 9, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — The Brookhaven High Panthers came out red-hot to start the game on Friday against visiting Lawrence County in a packed Sinclair Gymnasium.

The Panthers led the Cougars from Monticello 40-6 at halftime and the second half was a quick one in an eventual 55-26 victory for BHS.

It was the second meeting of the season for the teams, as Brookhaven High won 50-39 on Nov. 21 at Lawrence County.

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It was like the Panthers could do no wrong to start the game on Friday as they led 22-0 after the first quarter. They poked the ball away for transition layups, found open shooters who made shots and drove to the rim to loft up floaters that seemingly all went in.

When senior guard Jaylen Haliburton hit a long 3-pointer two minutes before halftime, he stretched the Ole Brook advantage to 34-4 and made Lawrence County head coach Pat Bridges call a timeout. 

Haliburton is the returning leading scorer for BHS head coach Charlton Grey and started on Friday alongside 6-foot-4 junior forward Kordell “Slim” Collins, senior guard Ronntrell Williams, senior wing Jamarius Malone and senior guard Ty Moore.

Last season, Haliburton put up 17.3 points per game and grabbed 6.5 rebounds per night. Collins averaged 5.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game as a sophomore. 

Haliburton is 6-foot-3 and Williams, Malone and Moore all stand around 6-foot-1, and the Panthers can eat up space on the court with that combined amount of length and athleticism.

One area where BHS looked good on Friday was how unselfish they were with the ball. When the Panthers forced turnovers with their defensive pressure, the ball moved up the court quickly without any one Panther dominating possession by over dribbling.

BHS made seven 3-pointers in the win.

Haliburton scored 11 points, all in the first half and Collins scored nine points, all in the first quarter. Malone added 11 points, junior Jay Ross came off the bench to score eight points, and senior Trey Moore added seven points.

Ty Moore scored four points for the Panthers while sophomore Jamarion Cooper added two points, sophomore Nicholas Gamble scored two points and Williams scored one point.

Thus far in 2023, Haliburton is scoring 18.4 points per game while putting up 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 steals and 3.6 assists per game. Collins is second on the team with an 8.7 points per game average.

Brookhaven High lost to 7A Brandon High in its season opener and then dropped a 53-43 matchup at the Lawrence County Tournament to MAIS member Parklane Academy.

Earlier in the week, they’d beaten 7A Pearl High (8-3) at home.

“I don’t think anyone picked us to beat Pearl and the guys played well in that game and continued to play well tonight,” said third year BHS head coach Charlton Grey. “We’ve got a group of young men that have bought in on how we want to play, but we know the season is long and we’ve got to keep improving.”

The Panthers play in a region with South Jones, Florence High, Natchez High, North Pike and Provine High.

So far in 2023, Brookhaven (8-2), Provine (8-2), Natchez (7-2) and Florence (7-3) are off to solid starts ahead of region play beginning.

The Panthers will return from the Christmas holiday break with a big home game on Jan. 5 against the Provine Rams.

Lawrence County went 18-10 last season for Bridges, the longtime head coach who’s also an alum of the school.

Over his almost 20 years at the school, Bridges has built a program that consistently hovers between 15-20 wins each season in the 4A ranks.

The last full season under .500 for Bridges was in 2013-2014 (LC did go 6-7 in a Covid shortened 2020-2021 campaign).

LC lost All-Area guard Keith Tayor, who averaged 15.7 points per game last season. In all, the Cougars lost their top four scorers from last season as senior guard Javion Sutton is the most experienced returnee after averaging 4.3 points per game as a junior.

Sutton started on Friday alongside senior Terrell Gholar, sophomore Jacavious Jefferson, junior Edgerrin Rhodes and junior Kendall Feazell. 

LC is 2-8 on the season after the loss.  

Mario Womack Jr. came off the bench for LC to score seven points in the fourth quarter as did senior Keynon Barnes. Gholar scored two points as did Jefferson and Jakorey Rhodes and Edgerrin Rhodes. Feazell added four points for the Cougars.