Top ranked Cats fall to Tupelo
By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
COLUMBUS Knowing All-American guard Tan White would suffer through one of the worst shooting performances of her career, as well as miss more than four minutes with a busted lip, not many folks would have given Tupelo a chance to knock off top-ranked Meridian High Friday afternoon.
But that's just what the second-ranked Lady Golden Wave did.
Tupelo took advantage of 23 turnovers by Meridian, handing the Lady Wildcats their first loss of the season in a 51-43 decision at the Columbus High/Wendy's Christmas Classic.
The loss dropped Meridian, which is ranked No. 1 in Mississippi and No. 21 in the nation according to USA-Today, to 15-1. Tupelo is now 12-0.
Even MHS head coach Donald Shirley admitted he would have liked his team's chances if he had been told White widely considered the state's best player would hit on just 4-of-18 shots from the field, easily her worst shooting performance of the season.
Both teams appeared tight early, as Tupelo eased to an 11-9 lead after one quarter.
In the second, Meridian opened things up a bit, taking the lead on an old-fashioned three-point play by Kanecia Williams. Two Cantea Brown baskets pushed MHS up by five, and the Lady Wildcats carried that advantage into the locker room up 24-19 at halftime.
But that was apparently where the Lady Wildcats lost their momentum. Tupelo scored the first three baskets of the second half, taking a 25-24 lead and prompting Shirley into a timeout at the 5:08 mark.
Less than a minute later, White had to leave the game with a bloodied lip, but Meridian failed to take advantage.
The Lady Wave got a three-pointer from Shera Edwards to go up four, and Tupelo was still up four at 34-30 when White returned from the dressing room at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Lady Wildcats fell behind by as many as 10 after back-to-back baskets by White midway through the fourth, then cut it to five on a three-pointer by Cassandra Harris and two free throws by Brown.
But Brown fouled out with 2:06 left, and Williams followed her to the bench with her fifth foul less than a minute later. Meridian never got any closer.
Brown finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots and Williams had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Meridian.
Chandra Collier added six points, Harris scored five to go with seven rebounds, three assists and four steals and Stephanie Mosley had five rebounds and six assists.
White's 12 points, nine rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots led Tupelo, which also got 15 points, six rebounds and three steals from Edwards. Tiffany Garth added nine points, nine rebounds and four steals and Shay Ashford scored six points.
Meridian outrebounded Tupelo 41-37 in the contest, but the Lady Wildcats were beaten 22-16 on the boards in the second half.