Top-ranked MHS set for showdown
By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Dec. 21, 2000
The wins keep piling up for the Meridian High School girls' basketball team. And as the Lady Wildcats approach their toughest competition of the season, the stakes are getting a little bigger.
Meridian's girls, who are primed for a pair of showdowns in this week's Christmas Classic at Columbus, moved up two spots to No. 21 in the nation in Wednesday's USA-Today Top 25 poll.
The 15-0 Lady Wildcats, fresh off their second straight Frazier-Yarbrough Memorial/Coca-Cola Classic tournament title, were also tabbed as the No. 5 ranked team in the South by USA-Today, which lists the Top 10 teams in four regions nationwide.
Meridian has been ranked No. 1 in the state for the past three weeks.
Wins Friday and Saturday at Columbus won't guarantee Meridian anything at season's end. But two victories this week could push the Lady Wildcats even higher in the national polls.
Meridian takes on arch-nemesis Tupelo at 3 p.m. Friday, then battles Class 6A Huffman of Birmingham, Ala., Saturday at 3 p.m.
While Huffman will present a bit of an unknown to MHS, the Lady Wildcats certainly know all about Tupelo.
The Lady Golden Wave, led by All-American guard Tan White, have eliminated the Lady Wildcats each of the past two seasons in the Class 5A State Tournament at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Last March, White scored 42 points as Tupelo sent Meridian packing with a 63-60 win in the 5A semifinals, handing the Lady Wildcats their first loss in two months and ending Meridian's season at 33-3.
The Columbus tournament actually begins today, with Meridian's boys taking on Lafayette County at 4:30 p.m.
The 11-4 Wildcats have won five in a row and should get a couple of stern tests in the Columbus tourney.
Class 4A Lafayette features big man Rahman Lockhart, the brother of Ole Miss center Rahim Lockhart. MHS coach Ernie Watson scouted the squad in a tight battle with defending Class 3A state champ Corinth last week.
The Wildcats are also in action Friday, when they take on Millington, Tenn., in the Columbus tourney at 6 p.m.
Rocky Higginbotham is a sportswriter for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.