Brookhaven High sweeps pair of division hoops over South Jones
Published 4:32 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2024
The Region 3-5A race in both girls’ and boys’ basketball is shaping up to be a close one as the regular season draws to a close before the region tournament that will be hosted by Florence in approximately two weeks.
On Monday in Sinclair Gymnasium, the Brookhaven High Panthers did what they needed to do, winning two one-point games on their homecourt in a pair of close region matchups against the South Jones Braves.
Brookhaven High 37, South Jones 36 (Girls)
With just one senior on the roster in Aliyah Watkins, this is the most inexperienced team Brookhaven High head coach Preston Wilson has had in many years.
In a tight game on Monday, Wilson was up teaching and coaching and explaining what he wanted his girls to do in timeouts all the way up until the final whistle.
The finish was a reminder of why you’ve got to fight until that final horn, as South Jones rushed down the court to bank in a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“Lots of teachable moments, but lots of growth for us this year too,” said Wilson. “Like on that last possession, that just shows them that you’ve got to close out on the shooter and finish the game. If we’d missed one more free throw on the possession before that, this game would have been going to overtime.”
Watkins scored inside to give BHS a five-point lead late, but South Jones flew down the court for a layup that cut the advantage to 34-31 for the Panthers with 60 seconds left.
Brookhaven then got its final field goal from the floor on a basket where junior Bailee Gamble was fouled. Brookhaven High had five missed free throws in the final quarter.
Watkins scored seven points and Gable chipped in six points. Sophomore point guard Madison Benson led the way with 12 points for BHS. Sophomore Kema Roberts added eight points for BHS, with six of those coming in the final quarter of action. Freshman guard Aubrey Dampier rounded out the Brookhaven High scoring with four points.
The win moved BHS to 10-12 overall and 4-2 in region play. South Jones, coached by former Wayne County and Delta State standout Shameka Thomas, is now 4-15 overall and 1-5 in league play following the loss.
The Panthers began their run through the region on Dec. 21 with a 45-42 win at South Jones. They then beat Provine and North Pike, two more division foes. The win over North Pike was a close one, 36-32 in Sinclair Gymnasium.
Next up was a close defeat, 42-38 to Natchez High on the road. Natchez is currently no. 2 in the division with an overall record of 15-4 and a region record of 5-1. Florence (17-7) is no. 1 in the region with a 6-0 mark in league games.
Florence beat BHS 41-29 last week in Rankin County.
The Panthers will close the regular season with an important slate of three-games. They’ll travel to North Pike on Jan. 26 and then close things out with back-to-back home games against Natchez High (Jan. 30) and Florence High (Feb. 2).
Brookhaven High 64, South Jones 63 (Boys)
The boys’ side of Region 3 is equally tight as Provine sits atop the division now with a 5-1 league mark. South Jones and Brookhaven High each moved to 4-2 in the region following the action on Monday and Natchez sits just behind them at 3-3 overall after six games, just ahead of Florence High at 2-4.
It’s one of those leagues where anybody can beat anybody on any given night though, as Florence handed Provine its first division loss on Monday by a 53-48 final.
South Jones (11-7) beat BHS 57-48 when the teams first met in Ellisville on Dec. 21.
This time, the Panthers came out with a determined look from the tip and kept that effort up to earn a 1-point victory for head coach Charlton Grey.
It was the second straight tight game for Brookhaven High (17-4) as the Panthers won 69-66 in overtime at Florence High last week.
Senior guard Jaylen Haliburton led BHS with 17 points in the win. Sophomore forward Nichola Gamble scored 13 points. Gamble helped the Panthers get off to a fast start as he scored four of his team’s first 10 points in the opening quarter.
Junior Kordell Collins added 12 points as did senior Jamarius Malone. Senior Ronntrell Williams scored seven points and senior Ty Moore rounded out the BHS scoring with three points.
“We played with more composure,” said Grey when asked to compare the effort on Monday with the first meeting in Ellisville won by SJ. “They recognized when South Jones changed defenses and played very well together. They never gave up and I’m very proud of this group of young men.”