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MHS wears Brandon down

By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
Jan. 27, 2001
BRANDON In basketball, having depth is a crucial element. And Friday night Ernie Watson's crew showed they have all the elements.
The Meridian High Wildcats used relentless defense and plenty of fresh bodies to wear down the Brandon Bulldogs, 86-63.
But it was in the second quarter that MHS took over. A layup by Jeremy Ruffin pulled the Cats, who had previously trailed by as many as six, to within one, at 20-19. But the Bulldogs, who were seeking their third win of the season, pushed the lead up to eight with a 3-pointer by BHS guard Jerious Norwood at the 5:00 mark of the second quarter. Norwood led the Dogs with 16 points.
The Cats then responded as Jason Windom, who pumped in 19 points, began and ended a 9-2 run with a 3-point play and coast-to-coast layup to get MHS back to within a point at 31-30 with 2:55 remaining. The Cats promptly finished the half with a 12-1 burst that was capped when Ruffin stole the ball from Norwood at half-court and threw down a monster slam dunk at the buzzer for two of his 10 points.
In the second half, Meridian was content to let Brandon's mammoth centers beat them inside with layups. Despite their presence, MHS outboarded its hosts 31-26, with Otis Bumpers getting nine of those. The Cats remained tough on defense and kept a high tempo in increasing the lead, while forcing a total of 18 turnovers. BHS only managed to get as close as seven, 47-40 on a Ken Griffin layup with 6:37 to go in the third.
The Bulldogs' big men put in 19, including Richard Burch's 15, but MHS got hot from the outside, as Michael Davis put in 16 and Jamaine Winfield kept the defense honest inside by slashing his way to an eight-point night.
Windom's reverse layup at the 2:00 mark of the game pushed the lead to 22 before back-to-back Cat baskets inside the final minute led to the final margin. The Cats return home to face Columbus in a pivotal game Tuesday night.
Meridian girls 63, Brandon 37: It was the same old story for the Lady Wildcats (22-3), who looked as if they had a point to prove after last week's loss to Neshoba Central. The Lady Cats, who had four players in double figures led by Cantea Brown's 14. Donald Shirley's bunch powered their way to a 35-11 lead with 2:26 to go in the first half.
Chandra Collier and Valencia Hairston added 11 and 10 respectively. After BHS' Lindsey Dukes laid in two of her 29 points to make it 54-27 with 1:11 to go in the third, fouls and turnovers kept both teams off the scoreboard until 4:49 remaining in the game.
The Lady Cats play New Albany today at 4 p.m.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. Email him at rdark@themeridianstar.com.

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