MHS sweeps slate on senior night
By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
Feb. 3, 2001
It was senior night at Turnage Gymnasium and the 2000-01 Meridian Wildcats and Lady Wildcats finished the home regular season slate in style.
For the second time this season, Northwest Rankin (16-13, 2-4) gave the Cats (22-6, 4-1) all they wanted, as the game went down to the wire.
But MHS prevailed, 75-70, setting up a Division 5-5A showdown at Wayne County Tuesday night. MHS has to win by three in order to clinch the top seed in the tournament.
Also for the second time this season, Donald Shirley's Lady Cats put on a clinic, routing the Lady Cougars, 83-36.
Meridian boys, 75, Northwest Rankin 70: With 4:14 to go in the third period, Fred Cole's free throw gave MHS its largest lead at 48-33, and at that point, it looked as if the Cats would run away with it.
But Gary Post's Cougars were determined to avenge an earlier tough loss on their home floor, and responded with a gutty 19-9 run that bridged the final two quarters. Patrick Lindsey's two free throws with 7:03 left made it 58-52, much to the delight of the large NWR contingent on hand.
A pair of Cat turnovers sandwiched around a big 3-pointer by Jeff Anderson and a back-door layup by Alex McIntosh made it 61-59, and from there it was a frenzied seesaw battle to the final horn.
Marcus Melvin, who had 15 points before fouling out, threw down a thunderous dunk to get his team to 65-64. But Jeremy Ruffin, who had 14 points and 14 rebounds, added a putback and was fouled to push the lead back to three.
Ruffin added another stickback at the 2:18 mark to give MHS a four-point lead. Then after the game clock went out and an additional 18 seconds were added at the restart, Otis Bumpers sank a pair of free throws to give the hosts more breathing room.
Michael Davis (14 points) added another before Ivory Horne, who pumped in 23, nailed another trey with 31 ticks left. Down the stretch. MHS got away from the Cougars in the same manner the visitors caught up to them, by breaking a stiff press and hitting shots or getting to the charity stripe.
The Cougars will face the loser of MHS/WCHS in the first round of the division tournament. The Cougars made 18-of-25 foul shots, while the Cats sank 6-of-10.
Quadrick Griffin had an all-around night with 14 points, six boards and four assists. MHS did have problems taking care of the ball, as the Wildcats turned it over 27 times. On the flip side, the Cougars swiped it away on 14 occasions. Jason Windom kept up his steady bench play with 14 points, as well.
Meridian girls 83, Northwest Rankin 36: This one was as close as 30-17 early in the second quarter before the Lady Cats exploded to turn it into a clinic.
NWR (5-22, 0-6) was held scoreless for a good chunk of the second half, as the Lady Wildcats outscored them 46-14 over that span.
The seniors led the way in their final regular season home game, highlighted by Kanecia Williams' 22-point night. Chandra Collier spelled her with 17 and Cantea Brown put in 14. Chelse Alford and Cassandra Harris each had nine and Stephanie Mosley chipped in with eight.
Senior Erica Cross also contributed heavily to the victory. Third-ranked MHS (25-3, 6-0) made all seven of its free throws en route to clinching the Division 5-5A regular season crown.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. Email him at email@example.com.