Victory slips away …
GIVE ME THAT n Newton's Lance Pruitt (right) battles for a rebound with O'Bannon's Byron Carter during their first-round game of the MHSAA Boys Class 2A State Tournament at the Mississippi Coliseum Monday. Photo by Fredie Carmichael/Special to The Star
By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
Feb. 27, 2001
JACKSON The Big House giveth and the Big House taketh away.
Never has that been more evident than in Monday night's Class 2A Boys State tilt between Newton and O'Bannon.
The Tigers stormed back from a 12-point third quarter deficit to forge a 10-point lead, only to see it slip away at the buzzer as the Green Waves pulled off the 83-82 heartbreaker and sent Newton home.
Mario Qualls had a stellar performance for the Tigers, pouring in 26 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, but it was free throws that did Newton in.
The Tigers (26-10) missed four free throws in the final 22 seconds that left the door open for O'Bannon (27-9).
The Green Waves won it on Byron Carter's layup at the horn.
With his team up 80-78, Qualls pulled down the third consecutive Green Waves' miss and was promptly sent to the line.
He hit 1-of-2 for the three-point lead.
Ten seconds later, O'Bannon's Jovan Shanks rolled to the rim, laid it in and got fouled. Shanks' free throw tied the game at 81.
Ladarrian Blaylock sank one of two with 10 ticks to go, giving the Tigers the 82-81 lead.
The Green Waves turned it over on the inbounds pass and when Qualls was sent to the line seconds later, it looked as if Newton would advance to Saturday's semifinals.
But Qualls missed both, and Carter hauled in the long pass behind the NHS defense and went in uncontested. In the frenzy that followed, OHS head coach Leroy Boyd was sprawled out on the court in elation.
The Tigers came out like a house of fire, with a 12-2 spurt that put them right back into the thick of things with 4:47 to go in the third. Bobby Lindsey (10 points) hit a pair of free throws with 2:33 left in the third to give Newton its first lead since the 15-14 margin in the first frame.
Terrell Edwards, who tallied eight points and 11 boards, had five points in a Tiger run that was capped by a steal and layup by Qualls to give NHS a 74-64 lead with 4:20 left.
But the Green Waves, in their first appearance at the Mississippi Coliseum since 1982, reeled off eight straight to pull to within 74-72 with 2:20 left, with Carter getting five of his game-high 34 in that span.
Newton's Lance Pruitt came off the bench for 20 points and 11 rebounds, playing the majority of the final two frames with four fouls. Charles Dukes added 13 for NHS.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.