Wayne County too tough for Meridian
By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
Feb. 7, 2001
WAYNESBORO Chances are, if someone had told Wayne County head coach Gina Skelton her team would have only scored 36 points against Donald Shirley's Meridian High Wildcats, she probably wouldn't have taken the news too well.
But to the surprise of everyone packed inside the Wayne County High "Thunder Dome", Skelton's Lady War Eagles outlasted the Lady Wildcats 36-33.
The Lady War Eagles (21-5, 5-1 in Division 5-5A) handed Shirley's bunch its first division loss of the season, but third-ranked Meridian (25-4, 5-1) will enter next week's division tournament as the top seed by virtue of taking the tiebreaker on points in head-to-head competition.
The Lady Cats found themselves in a 17-7 hole after the first period, but fought back in the second, using a 9-0 run that was capped when Kanecia Williams tied the game at 20-20, with a layup just two seconds before the halftime buzzer.
Chelse Alford, who scored eight points, began the third quarter with a 3-pointer to give MHS its first lead and Williams converted a fast break layup off of a steal for for two of her 13 points to give the Lady Cats a five-point lead at the 5:12 mark.
After both teams traded baskets, Alford was whistled for a technical foul after protesting a personal and the Lady War Eagles capitalized to pull to within two.
But Sharkeshia Jordan launched a three that brought the house down and more importantly, gave the 10th-ranked Lady War Eagles the 28-27 lead with three minutes to go.
Wayne County took a 30-27 lead into the final frame that was marked by long defensive stretches that saw neither team score.
Another Williams layup came on the heels of a Carla Bartee fast break score that made it 34-31. After turnovers led to only a bucket apiece in the four minutes, the Lady War Eagles turned it over at the 28 second mark, but MHS couldn't convert on the tying 3-pointer. Bartee went to the line with just under eight seconds left but missed the front end, giving the visitors another shot, but again it came up short at the buzzer.
Bartee paced the hosts with 16, while Jordan and Thelma Cooper added six in the third and first periods, respectively. MHS, which committed 14 fouls, sank just 1-of-2 free throws. Cantea Brown was held to four points.
Williams said it was simply a matter of poor execution. "We just didn't play good, in a lot of areas, we weren't getting back on defense and we had too many turnovers."
But the senior forward also said the physicality in the contest was also a factor.
She gave credit to the WCHS defense in crunch time.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.