Louisville, Union win barnburners
By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Dec. 28, 2000
PHILADELPHIA The two afternoon contests in the first day of the Philadelphia Boys Holiday Tournament were supposed to be barnburners.
They certainly lived up to their billing.
Louisville and Union rallied for fourth-quarter victories in Wednesday's opening round, with the Wildcats knocking off Newton 70-69 and the Yellow Jackets edging Kemper County 48-45.
Louisville and Union will tangle in today's 4:30 p.m. semifinal, while Kemper County and Newton battle in the first game of the day at 2 p.m. in a consolation contest.
Louisville 70, Newton 69: The Wildcats got a pair of free throws from Mario Kirksey with 12.2 seconds left on the clock to give them the lead for good.
Louisville was up 20-13 after one quarter of action, but that's when Ed McGowan's Tigers of Newton slowly began to chip away at their deficit.
Newton closed within 40-35 at halftime, and took its first lead of the second half at the 1:39 mark of the third quarter on a thunderous slam dunk from Mario Qualls.
The Tigers were up 51-49 heading into the final quarter, where Louisville answered. The Wildcats scored the first nine points of the fourth period to take a 58-51 lead and force McGowan into a timeout.
Qualls came out of that timeout smoking, hitting back-to-back three-pointers to pull the Tigers within 60-59. Newton eventually went up 65-62 before consecutive reverse layups by Louisville's B.J. Grace and Andre Coleman provided the fourth lead change of the quarter with 1:16 remaining.
The game was tied at 67-67 with 12.2 seconds left when Qualls fouled out, and Kirksey nailed both free throws at the other end for a 69-67 Louisville lead. D'Andre Hardin added a single free throw with 4.6 seconds left, and Newton could manage only a layup by Bobby Lindsey in the closing seconds.
Grace led Louisville with 19 points, while Marquess Ledbetter and Andre Coleman scored 12 apiece. Hardin finished with nine, Greg Hughes had eight and Kirksey seven.
Qualls pumped in a game-high 26 points for Newton, while Lance Pruitt scored 13 and Lindsey nine. Terrell Edwards and Ladarrian Blaylock had six apiece.
Union 48, Kemper County 45: The Yellow Jackets scored the first 12 points of the final period to take an eight-point lead, then blew that lead and had to rally late for the win.
The victory improved Union to 10-4 overall and gave the Yellow Jackets a little revenge for a one-point loss to Kemper earlier this month in the West Lauderdale Tournament.
The Jackets led 12-9 after one quarter, only to see Kemper get a thunderous dunk from Gary Griffin and a three-pointer from Chris Davis during a second-quarter run that put the Wildcats up 25-19 at halftime.
Kemper County was still up 34-30 heading into the fourth quarter, but back-to-back three's by Union's Doug Wansley sparked his team's 12-0 run to put the Yellow Jackets ahead 42-34 with 3:12 remaining.
The Wildcats answered with one last-gasp run, with a three-pointer by Kendrick Benneman and a putback from Kenny Boyd capping the 9-0 run that gave Kemper a 43-42 lead with 1:47 left in the game.
Quincy Larkin's hook shot in the lane with 1:19 left put Union ahead for good, and Wansley's two free throws with 11.6 seconds on the clock sealed the win for the Jackets.
Wansley's 16 points led Union, which got 13 points and 12 rebounds from Trellis Mason. Derric Harris added eight points, seven rebounds and three steals, Chuck Evans scored six and Larkin had five points and six rebounds.
Boyd's 17 points and 10 rebounds led Kemper, which fell to 10-5. Davis scored eight, James Moore had six points, four assists and three steals and Benneman and Griffin scored five apiece.
Rocky Higginbotham is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at email@example.com.