Provine High stands between BHS Panthers and a trip to the Big House

Published 9:31 am Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Brookhaven High Panthers are one win away from heading to the Mississippi Coliseum aka “The Big House” for the semifinals of the MHSAA 5A boys’ playoffs.

Standing in their way is a quarterfinal matchup with their region rivals from Provine High, in a game that will be played on Friday, Feb. 23 at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville.

Tipoff between Brookhaven High (22-6) and Provine High (22-6) is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday.

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The Panthers reached the quarterfinals for the first time since the the 2016-2017 season by winning on the road Saturday at Laurel High, 69-64, in the opening round of 5A play.

Head coach Charlton Grey and his staff of Danarius Gray and Tommy Gibbs got a big night from junior forward Kordell “Slim Collins in the win. Collins, who came in averaging 9.6 points per game, exploded for 22 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and one block.

The meeting between Provine and Brookhaven will be the third of the season and the Rams from south Jackson own two wins thus far when the schools played in Region 3-5A action. Provine won 49-34 at BHS on Jan. 5 and then again, 67-59, at home on Jan. 23.

Provine reached the quarters by blasting Gautier 78-44 on Saturday in the first round. The Rams beat Natchez in the region tournament semifinals and then beat South Jones 74-53 in the region tournament championship game.

Provine has won eight games in a row, going back to a 53-48 loss to Florence on Jan. 22.

A program that’s got plenty of championship tradition, Provine made the 5A semifinals last season. The Rams are led by 5-foot-7 senior point guard Ja’Vian Watkins.

Grey and his team will look to counter with their leading scorer, senior wing Jaylen Haliburton, who’s averaging nearly 20 points per game for the Panthers.

Haliburton scored 16 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out four assists and made four steals for BHS in the win over Laurel.

“Against Provine, the key is for us to maintain our focus as a team,” said Grey of what it will take for BHS to break a three-game winning streak by the Rams over the Panthers. “We’ve got to rebound and continue to play team ball and hit our free throws. We’ve got to execute our game plan.”

All total, BHS had four players reach double figure scoring in the win over Laurel. Senior guard Rontrell Williams scored 11 points, grabbed seven rounds, had five assists and two steals and fellow 6-foot-1 senior guard Jamarius Malone scored 10 points while chipping in four rebounds and three steals.

Rounding out the BHS scoring against Laurel were sophomore Jamarion Cooper with eight points, sophomore Nicholas Gamble with four points and five rebounds and sophomore guard Ty Moore with two points.

The quarterfinals for the 5A south side of the bracket are being held on Friday at Pearl River in Poplarville while the north bracket is being played out on Wednesday at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena.

The two boys’ quarterfinals in the 5A North are New Hope (26-2) facing Yazoo City (26-5) and Canton High (23-4) taking on Cleveland Central (24-8). The other quarterfinal in Poplarivlle, which will be played after the BHS-Provine game, has South Jones (16-10) taking on Wayne County (22-5).