W. Lauderdale claims first girls gold
By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
June 25, 2001
Four seconds into the State Games of Mississippi gold medal game, West Lauderdale's girls failed to get back after the opening tip and gave Newton High an easy layup.
It was about the only thing the Lady Knights did wrong all afternoon Sunday.
West played a near-perfect game to win its first-ever gold medal, as the Lady Knights coasted past Newton 52-22.
"We didn't do much wrong, and I thought they may have gotten down a little bit," West coach Jody Hurst said.
"We played with some intensity and were able to make some things happen, and we played much better than we did this morning."
Hurst was speaking of a 41-40 win over defending gold medal champ Meridian in Sunday morning's semifinals.
In that game, West had to overcome a seven-point deficit in the final eight minutes. But in the championship contest, the Lady Knights had a 12-point lead halfway through the first half.
Jawanda Huggins scored West's first five points inside, then Cierra Jennings got a steal and layup during an 11-2 run that made it 15-8. Patty Monroe and J.J. Huggins followed with back-to-back 3-pointers, forcing Newton into a timeout with a 12-point deficit.
"That's what happens when things are going your way," Hurst said of the consecutive bombs.
Newton got back within single digits and was still down just 29-18 at halftime. But West started the second half with nine straight points including another 3-pointer from Kristina Gardner to go up 38-18 and force another timeout by the Lady Tigers.
Newton's only points of the second half came on a 3-pointer from Creoshia Williams at the 9:38 mark and a free throw from Latonya Jordan with 8:45 left. First-year coach Crandel Porter emptied his bench at the 6:05 mark with his team trailing by 23.
"They don't have anything to be ashamed of," Hurst said of Newton. "They beat a very good Lake team to make it to the finals, and coach Porter's doing a great job."
Lenore Gray led Newton with nine points, while Jordan scored eight.
Jawanda Huggins' all-around performance included 13 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals to lead West. J.J. Huggins scored 10, Gardner had nine and Shannon Lloyd had six points and seven rebounds.
West out-rebounded Newton 27-15 and had 14 steals three each by the Huggins sisters and Gardner while Jennings dished out three assists.
In Sunday morning's semifinals, West downed Meridian 41-40 at MHS and Newton topped Lake 55-46 at MCC.
In the Lady Knights' win, West overcame a 23-22 halftime deficit and an 18-point performance by Meridian's Stephanie Mosley.
Gardner scored 12, Lloyd had 10 and Monroe chipped in nine for West Lauderdale.
Newton got 21 points from Gray and 12 from Jordan, as the Lady Tigers also erased a halftime deficit after trailing 22-19 at the break.
Kotreece Bender scored eight and Williams had seven for Newton, while Kimyatta Viverette and Kim Cox scored 11 and 10, respectively, to lead Lake.
Rocky Higginbotham is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at email@example.com.