QUITMAN — The game changed after the Brooks County boys basketball team stopped committing turnovers.
The Trojans maintained possession of the ball and executed drives to the basket in a third-quarter push that created a gap.
They preserved their lead in the fourth and earned a 66-61 victory against the Cairo Syrupmakers in the Denise Monroe Classic nightcap at Brooks County High School on Friday night.
“I made some key substitutions at the right times,” Brooks coach Brandon Dawkins said. “I saw some of my guys were getting tired legs, and those guys that came in gave us a good lift.”
The senior-led Trojans achieved balanced scoring in the win that advances them into tonight’s 8:30 boys championship game against Cook. Michael Edmonds led the Trojans in scoring with 18 points. Tony Thomas and Jamarion Herring both added 13 points.
“I expect that from them,” Dawkins said of his three seniors. “Right now we’re trying to build more chemistry and get more consistent.”
Thomas found Ahmad Sanders for a layup off a steal that gave Brooks a 52-42 advantage with 5:30 left in the third. Thomas added a pair of free throws and Herring scored a layup off an inbounds pass to make it 56-46 entering the fourth.
“I told our guys we were quicker than they were, so just drive and go by them,” Dawkins said. “They were thinking about running the play to where I’m just like, ‘Play. Instead of run a play.’”
Cairo’s Philliek Byrden made a pair of foul shots that cut the Trojans’ lead to four with 2:08 remaining. Brooks rebounded and defended well in the final minutes to keep some distance.
Herring made a rebounding score and bounced a pass to an open teammate to make it 65-58 before Byrden nailed a 3-pointer with 24 seconds left.
Defense and rebounding closed out the game for Brooks.
Umar Young led the Syrupmakers with 18 points. Burden finished with 10 points. Kentrel Sims and Mike Davis scored nine apiece.
Brooks looks to avenge a pervious loss against the Hornets in tonight’s tournament final.
“Last time we played them, they out rebounded us. They killed us on the boards,” Dawkins said. “We just have to box out more and do a better job of rebounding.”