Jamiya Atterberry powers Lawrence County past Brookhaven High

Published 5:56 pm Saturday, December 9, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Six-foot senior forward Jamiya Atterberry scored 18 points in a tight game Friday between her Lawrence County Cougars and the Brookhaven High Panthers in Sinclair Gymnasium.

Atterberry’s presence around the rim was the difference in a 55-45 win for the visitors from Lawrence County. It was the second meeting of the season for the teams as BHS won 54-47 in Monticello on Nov. 21.

Head coach Candice McDuffey and her Cougars moved to 4-6 on the season with the win. The victory broke a string of three straight closes for McDuffey’s team. LC lost by three to Tylertown, by four to South Pike and by four to Mendenhall coming into Friday.

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Lawrence County led 14-12 after the first quarter and 26-24 at halftime.The third quarter where the Cougars took control, outscoring BHS 17-7 in the eight minutes after halftime. Atterberry scored eight points for her team during the third quarter.

“She’s just reaching the tip of the iceberg, just the tip, of what she’s capable of,” said McDuffey of Atterberry. “Her ability to rebound and limit their second chance points was big for us tonight.”

Brookhaven High is 3-7 after the loss. Coach Preston Wilson has built the BHS girls’ program into a 5A powerhouse over the last several seasons, but this year the Panthers are leaning on new faces in nearly every position on the floor.

BHS went a combined 140-30 over the previous six seasons, which included a 5A runner-up finish in 2020.

Aliyah Watkins is the lone senior on the roster for BHS and is by far the most experienced player on the team. She started on Friday alongside junior Bailee Gamble, junior Sanya Graham, sophomore Madison Benson and sophomore Kema Roberts.

Wilson and his staff were without junior forward Zaniya Nunnery, one of the most natural scorers on the team, who was on the bench in street clothes with a walking boot on one of her legs.

Benson led the way with 14 points for BHS and Gamble added 13 points, Roberts scored 10 points and Watkins scored eight points. 

BHS finished 11-of-25 from the free-throw line in the loss. 

Atterberry started for LC along with senior Kapresha Courtney, junior Gelya Sanders, junior Laicie Bridges, and senior Allison Knight.

Bridges scored 13 points, Courtney scored nine points and Knight scored seven points. LC also got five points from its bench, three from Addie Raye Pennington and two points from Makayla Hardy.

Atterberry, Knight and Hardy all stand are around the 5-foot-10 to 6-foot range and gave the Cougars a size advantage inside against the smaller Panthers.

McDuffey and LC won Region 7-4A last season, dropping only one division game during the regular season and division tournament combined. They lost 50-46 to Mendenhall in the first round of the 4A tournament. 

Brookhaven High had won 11 games in a row in their series against Lawrence County. The last victory for LC over BHS before Friday was a 42-38 win on Dec. 9, 2016. Even when LC went 31-3 in 2017-2018 and won the MHSAA 4A state title, two of those losses came against BHS during the regular season.

McDuffey, a Lawrence County alum, has two former Cougar standouts on her staff in Taylor Brister and Camryn Davis. Davis wrapped up her college career last year by averaging 13 points per game as a senior at Delta State.

“I really love my staff this year and I felt like tonight the entire bench did a great job of staying locked in and gave us a boost with their energy,” said McDuffey. “Our region has teams that play a different style of game than what we saw tonight, but playing against a program like Brookhaven that gets up and down the court is only going to make us better. I feel like we’re better than our record shows, hopefully we’ll get some momentum off this win tonight.”

On Tuesday, Lawrence County will host Franklin County and the Cougars will then play at Jefferson Davis County on Friday.

BHS travels to Crystal Springs on Tuesday and then hosts Wingfield on Thursday in Sinclair Gymnasium. Region play will start on Dec. 21 when the Panthers travel to play at South Jones.