Natchez High boys Bulldogs advances, Natchez High Lady Bulldogs falls
By BILL BARKSDALE
SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT
BROOKHAVEN —Both the girls and boys Natchez High School basketball teams entered the second round of the MHSAA 5A playoffs Friday night against Brookhaven High, but only one emerged victorious.
Natchez High’s Varsity Boys team, under coach David Haywood, will advance to the Quarterfinals with a decisive win against the Panthers, 72-63. Conversely, the Brookhaven Lady Panthers shut down Natchez High 79-43.
Brookhaven girls 79, Natchez 43
Reaching the second round of playoffs is a big accomplishment for a young Natchez team in a rebuilding year. But the first half of play doomed the Bulldogs.
Over twenty Natchez turnovers in the first half sent the Lady Panthers back to the rim for another basket. Turnovers allowed Brookhaven three or more baskets on every possession. The Bulldogs made only two points, (two free throws) in the entire second quarter. At the half, the Panthers led 47-12. The deficit was far too deep for the Bulldogs to overcome.
Brookhaven’s full-court press and strong defense prevented NHS point guard Kelsey McNeal from executing passes or plays. Instead, McNeal drove hard into the lane, but only scored two layups.
Natchez High senior Kya Singleton had 19 points on the night, the only Bulldog to reach double digits. Brookhaven Head Coach Preston Wilson gave all 13 players on his roster playing time before their home crowd. Eleven of 13 Lady Panthers scored at least five points before the final buzzer confirmed a 79-43 victory for Brookhaven.
Natchez boys 72, Brookhaven 63.
Though Brookhaven jumped out to an early lead, Natchez ended every quarter ahead on baskets. As point guard for the Bulldogs, Dionte’ Thomas executed plays and controlled the clock. Thomas and the Natchez offense substantially slowed the fourth quarter, ensuring a nine-point victory.
KeDarius Stampley led the Bulldogs with an impressive and consistent performance of at least six points per quarter. Stampley had a total of 28 points, including two dunks, and sank seven out of nine free throws.
James Singleton also had a standout night, scoring 24 points and sank five out of seven free throws.
Tensions rose when Brookhaven High senior Jermario Hersey and Natchez High’s Trevon Jackson tied up after a foul, leading to a technical for each player and multiple ejections of fans. At the end of the game, Hersey was called for a second technical and was reluctantly ushered to the locker room by a Brookhaven coach.
Natchez High moves on to the MHSAA 5A Quarterfinals and will play at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday Feb. 29 at Pearl River Community College. The Bulldogs will face the winner between Hattiesburg and Wingfield High School.