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Cats fall to Jim Hill in overtime

By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
Feb. 24, 2001
HATTIESBURG The Jackson Jim Hill Tigers opened the overtime session with a 7-0 run to take a 65-61 overtime win in the Class 5A South State Tournament that put a serious dent in the Meridian High Wildcats' bid for a return trip to the Mississippi Coliseum.
Now Watson's team faces the daunting task of a must-win situation tonight against the Biloxi Indians, who lost in the second game to host Hattiesburg in overtime, 75-69.
The Cats, who trailed by three or four points for nearly the entire game, finally seized the momentum in the fourth quarter when Tony Dunn, who finished with eight points, hit a layup on the extra pass and got fouled at the 2:05 mark of regulation. Dunn converted and the Cats (26-8) led 55-52.
After Jeremy Ruffin, who totaled 12 points, hit a layup a minute late, Jim Hill's Mario Jointer was called for traveling with his team down 57-54.
MHS had an opportunity to push the lead to five with 57 seconds left, but left a point at the free-throw line.
It would be their last score for a span of five minutes.
The Tigers (26-6) capitalized with a spectacular stickback by Jason Husband (nine points) to keep his team breathing and cause the raucous Jim Hill contingent to explode with just 33 ticks left.
The Tigers then slapped on a stiff full-court press and were forced to foul Quadrick Griffin, who Watson later referred to as his best free-throw shooter.
But with the Cats up 58-56, Griffin came away empty and on the inbounds pass, Jointer, who poured in a game-high 23, was bumped while streaking down the sideline and half a minute to go, the Tigers saw their opportunity.
Jim Hill was simply clutch when it counted at the stripe, making 11 of their last 12 free throws, including 5-of-6 in the extra session.
After Jointer hit both to tie the game, JH stole the ball and blew two easy layups that would have won it. Three straight turnover in the final nine seconds brought a frenetic end to the fourth quarter.
MHS got the opening possession and proceeded to dribble out over a minute of clock.
Two Cats turnovers later, the Tigers went to the line and Husband hit one to give his team the lead for good with 2:12 left.
Whether it was fatigue or schematics, the Cats simply weren't able to solve the tough Tiger man-to-man press in the waning moments and weren't able to convert a bucket.
Dakari Wallace sank a pair of free throws for two of his 10 and with a 1:37 left, the lead looked insurmountable.
After another MHS miss, it was up to the guys in green to spread the floor and play keepaway and that's exactly what they did. Jointer went to the line and gave MHS the 63-58 lead with 29 seconds showing, settling the issue.
Griffin's trey at the buzzer provided the final margin.
Michael Davis came up big for the Wildcats, hitting some tough runners to lead the team with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Griffin had a valiant effort, with 13 points and seven assists, while Jason Windom added five points.
For Jim Hill, who last made it to the Big House two seasons ago when Jointer was ineligible as a sophomore, it was a tad more potent inside scoring game. 6-6 center Harold Martin collected nine points and Korey Moore put in 11. MHS outrebounded Jim Hill 26-22.
The Cats will return to the W.H. Buddy Watkins Gymnasium for the third place go game tonight at 6:30 p.m. The contest started a half hour late when one of the rims had to be replaced after it broken on a jump shot by Jim Hill player during the pregame shootaround.
Hattiesburg 75, Biloxi 69, OT: In another overtime gem, the host Hattiesburg Tigers (31-4) broke the scoreless drought by both teams at the 2:34 mark of the extra session when Phillip Hill drained a pair of free throws to give the Tigers the lead for good.
James Ball paced the Tiger attack with a blistering 29-point effort.
Chey Christie was the high man for the Indians (24-10).
The win gives HHS its first trip to the Coliseum since 1974.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rdark@themeridianstar.com.

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