Kemper County's season ends with loss to Hazlehurst
By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Feb. 25, 2001
TYLERTOWN Basketball strategies may change, but fundamentals will always remain the same.
And when two basketball teams are evenly matched, the one which shoots free throws better wins nearly every time out.
Kemper County missed 17 times from the charity stripe Saturday night, and the Wildcats saw their season come to an end in the Class 3A South State Boys Tournament with an 85-74 setback to Hazlehurst.
Veteran Kemper County coach Charles Jackson saw his squad finish the season with a 25-12 record. Upstart Hazlehurst, with its second big win of the week, improved to 18-19 and goes to the Class 3A State Tournament next week as the No. 3 seed out of the South.
The teams seesawed back and forth in the first half, when neither squad led by more than six points. But a wild 3-pointer by Hazlehurst's Jeremy Sandifer who was falling out-of-bounds chasing a rebound at the halftime buzzer gave the Indians a 35-33 lead and shifted the momentum to Hazlehurst.
The Indians put together a 9-0 run early in the third that forced Jackson into a pair of timeouts. The second came with 4:35 on the third-quarter clock, and the Wildcats never led again.
It was a 12-point Hazlehurst lead going into the fourth quarter and a 14-point lead early in the final period.
Kemper trailed 73-61 with two minutes left, but stormed back with 3-pointers by James Moore and Kendrick Benneman. When Moore putback a teammate's missed free throw with 32 seconds left in the game, the Wildcats had trimmed their deficit to 79-74.
But as he had done all night, Hazlehurst's Devian Gray knocked down a pair of freebies at the other end, and the Indians finished the game by scoring the final six points.
Devian Gray, who hit eight straight free throws at one point during the fourth quarter, finished with a game-high 31 points and also had seven rebounds and five steals for Hazlehurst. Antrell Gray had 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Kemper got 20 points and 14 rebounds from Kenny Boyd and 18 points and nine assists from James Moore. The Wildcats also got nine points and four assists from Chris Davis, nine points from Benneman and eight points from Kendrick Gale.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.