Lady Cats do it again
By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Jan. 6, 2001
FOREST The first time the Meridian High girls met Choctaw Central on the basketball court this season, the Lady Warriors bolted out of the gate before MHS settled down to take a convincing win in a defensive struggle.
Friday night, the end result was the same. But even though Choctaw Central never led after the game's opening minutes, Donald Shirley and his highly-touted Lady Wildcats didn't get to rest until the final buzzer had sounded.
Meridian built a double-digit lead during the first three quarters of play, then held off a Choctaw Central rally to down the Lady Warriors 74-63 in semifinal action at the Central Mississippi Classic.
The 17-2 Lady Wildcats move into tonight's championship with the victory. Meridian faces Forest which defeated Scott Central in the other girls' semifinal at 6:30 p.m. in a rematch of last year's tournament championship game.
Choctaw Central, which is now 15-3, will play Scott Central in the third-place game at 3:30 p.m.
A technical foul call against Meridian helped Choctaw Central score five straight points midway through the first quarter to take an 11-10 edge. That was the Lady Warriors' fourth lead of the game, and it would be the last for Willis Tullos' squad, as well.
Meridian answered with the next eight points, including an Erica Cross putback. The Lady Wildcats stretched that lead to 10 early in the second quarter, but a 3-pointer by Shavon Willis helped bring Choctaw Central back within 34-28 at halftime.
The lead grew to 11 points after the third quarter, and eventually grew to as many as 14 points with 3:31 left in the contest. But Choctaw Central's pressure resulted in a pair of easy baskets for the Lady Warriors, who reeled off eight points in less than a minute to pull within 66-60.
Meridian killed the Choctaw run with a Chandra Collier basket with 2:33 left, then junior point guard Stephanie Mosley nailed four straight free throws in the final 1:28 to help seal the win.
Mosley finished with eight points and five assists, while Kanecia Williams pumped in a game-high 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Meridian.
Collier scored 19 and grabbed seven rebounds, Cantea Brown had 10 points and 18 rebounds, Chelse Alford scored nine points and Cassandra Harris added six assists. The Lady Wildcats used their size for a 54-28 edge on the glass, helping to overcome 24 turnovers.
Choctaw Central got 18 points, six assists and six steals from eighth-grader Chantay Frazier. Ferne Denson added 10 points, six rebounds and three steals before fouling out, while Crystal Lewis, Shavon Willis and Deaundrea Johnson all scored eight points.
Lewis had five assists and four steals, while Melinda Ben contributed seven points and three steals.