Lady Warriors win big
GOING FOR TWO n Newton County's April Bufkin drives past Chantay Frazier during Friday's game. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Jan. 27, 2001
DECATUR The 81-game homecourt winning streak of the Choctaw Central girls has been well publicized.
And with the way the Lady Warriors played in front of an estimated crowd of nearly 1,000 at Newton County Friday night, they'd might as well been on their home floor.
Choctaw blitzed Newton County with 12 straight points early in the third quarter and never trailed again, knocking off the Lady Cougars 76-61 to claim the regular-season Division 5-3A crown.
The 13th-ranked Lady Warriors finished with a clean 6-0 sweep in their division, and improved to 22-3 overall. Unranked Newton County lost for the first time this month and dropped to 23-3 and 2-1.
Newton County earned a split by winning the boys' game, 60-55.
Choctaw Central girls 76, Newton County 61: The homestanding Lady Cougars scored the first nine points of the game and shot 58 percent in the first half. But Newton County still led just 40-34 at halftime, and it didn't take long for that lead to evaporate in the second half.
After Tamekia Foley's jumper to start the third quarter put Newton County ahead by eight, Choctaw Central scored the next 12 points.
A steal and assist by Crystal Lewis led to a Ferne Denson bucket that tied the game at 42 and forced NCHS head coach Richard Harris into a timeout. Then, Lewis scored off a steal and assist by Denson, and the Lady Warriors were ahead for good.
Three-pointers by Lewis and Denson and the red-hot play of eighth-grader Chantay Frazier pushed Choctaw Central ahead 56-48 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Cougars pulled within 62-56 on a 3-pointer from Kristin Chaney with 5:02 left, but Choctaw Central cruised afterward, including a 10-for-10 showing at the free throw line in the final four minutes.
Frazier finished with a monster night, coming up two assists shy of a triple-double with 25 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and four steals. Lewis scored 24 points and had five assists; Denson had 13 points, 14 rebounds and six assists; Melinda Ben had six points, eight rebounds, six assists and two blocks; and Deaundrea Johnson had eight points and eight rebounds.
Choctaw Central had 29 assists and just nine turnovers as a team, and the Lady Warriors outrebounded Newton County 44-33.
Foley finished with game-highs of 29 points and four blocked shots, and she also had 10 rebounds and four assists to lead Newton County. Lakelia Bogan had 13 points and six rebounds, Chaney had nine points, six boards and four assists, Yolanda Johnson scored seven and April Bufkin and Stephanie Airhart handed out four assists apiece.
Newton County has a pair of big division contests next week: Tuesday at Southeast and Friday at West Lauderdale.
Choctaw Central is done with its division schedule and will host J.Z. George Tuesday.
Newton County boys 60, Choctaw Central 55: Al Willis and Tony Smith scored 13 points apiece in the second half for the host Cougars, helping Newton County erase an early double-digit deficit to earn its first division win.
The Cougars, now 14-9 overall and 1-2 in the division, fell behind 20-10 in the first quarter when Choctaw Central hit four 3-pointers, three of them by Julius Willis.
It was an eight-point lead for the Warriors at halftime, but Newton County opened the second half with a 25-7 run to take control.
Smith finished with a game-high 19 points to lead Newton County, while Willis scored 15. Tory Huddleston had nine and Del Murrell seven.
Choctaw Central fell to 8-16 overall and 3-3 in division play, despite 16 points from Willis. Braden Sam added 11, Deon Lewis had nine and Tyler Williamson seven.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.