A large group of Brighton High School students showed up for Friday night's District 13-AAA game against rival Munford.
The students, wearing lime green shirts with the slogan “Sixth Man” emblazoned on the front, were very vocal as the home team built a seven-point lead midway through the second quarter.
But the Lady Cougars put together a 13-0 run in the third quarter and eventually took complete control in a 49-30 win.
“I don't know if it was nerves or what, but it didn't seem like we were completely there in the first half,” Munford head coach Steve Poindexter said. “We talked about some things in the huddle to start the game and we didn't do any of that. I felt they settled down in the second half and played much better defense. I was proud of that.”
Munford (16-9 overall, 2-3 district) held the Lady Cardinals (1-21, 0-5) to just nine points in the second half.
Brighton head coach Kent Cates used a zone defense with one player guarding Munford leading scorer Kierra Richardson for much of the first half, and the strategy was pretty effective.
Richardson was held scoreless in the first half, but Phenecia Howard more than picked up the slack. She scored 17 of here game-high 21 points in the first half, including a pair of 3-pointers in the closing minutes of the second quarter that helped Munford take a 22-21 lead into the locker room.
“We were trying to at least slow her (Richardson) down,” Cates said. “We did slow her down, but number 24 (Howard) got hot. I told my girls we were going to try and make somebody else beat us. If she hadn't got so hot, we probably go into the half with an eight or 10 point lead. Credit her. She did what she is supposed to do.”
Brighton jumped out to a 6-0 lead on the strength of a pair of 3-pointers from freshman Danielle Collins before Howard hit a 3-pointer with 3:02 left in the first quarter for Munford's first field goal.
With 4:49 left in the first half, MaKayla Rose hit a bucket to give Brighton a 15-8 lead, its largest of the game.
But Howard, who made four 3-pointers in the game plus a conventional 3-point play early in the second quarter, scored nine points in final three minutes of the second half.
Richardson got on track for Munford in the second half, hitting three 3-pointers to finish with 12 points.
Munford held Brighton to just three points in the third quarter.
Collins led Brighton with 13 points, 12 of which came in the first half. Shayna Johnson added seven for Brighton.
Munford has two regular season games left: Friday at Hardin County and Monday at home against Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
The Lady Cougars will be the second or third seed in next week's district tournament in Savannah. Either way, Munford will play Hardin County in the semifinals of the four-team tournament.
“A week from now, no matter what happens, we're going to have to be ready because it's that time of year,” Poindexter said.
Brighton wraps up the regular season Friday at Dyer County and, as the fourth seed, will play top-seeded Dyer County again in the district tournament semifinals.
“We're growing,” Cates said. “These girls come out to work everyday. We're not just playing for this year. We're playing for the next two years. These girls have a better work ethic than most people I know.”