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North girls rally to defeat South

By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
July 22, 2001
GOODMAN As in most years, the South and North girls' squads in the 37th annual Coca-Cola All-Star Girls Basketball Game appeared to be evenly matched.
So, when the South squad got out of the gates with a 12-2 lead … "We said 'What's going on here,'" North coach Scott Tallant of Columbus said.
But Tallant and the North squad didn't panic. And it paid off, as his team rallied for a 64-57 win to grab a 19-18 lead in the all-time series.
"Our kids showed a lot of heart," Tallant said of the win in front of about 1,000 spectators at the Frank Branch Coliseum at Holmes Community College.
'I think maybe our nerves got the best of us and we had some turnovers," Tallant said. "(The South) converted those turnovers, and that's why we got down so big early.
"We really could have folded the tents there … our girls showed some character by coming back."
It didn't take long, either. After falling behind 12-2, the North closed to within 13-11 at the end of the first quarter and was still trailing by just two at halftime, 30-28.
The nip-and-tuck action continued in the third quarter, at least until Priscilla Berry took over. The tiny guard from Myrtle nailed a pair of 3-pointers during a 10-0 run for the North, helping the victorious squad to a 54-45 edge heading into the final quarter.
"That may have been the back-breaker," Tallant said of Berry's explosion that helped her gain Most Valuable Offensive Player honors.
"Or, it could have been … they still made a run and got within two."
That, the South did, thanks in part to Meridian High's Kanecia Williams.
Williams hit a pair of freebies to cap five straight points for the South, then got an offensive putback that pulled the South within 55-52.
It got as tight as 59-57 on a basket by Newton County's Tamekia Foley with 2:40 remaining. But Tanelda McDonald of Madison Central answered with a 3-pointer at the other end for the North, and flashy point guard Kerby Jones of Callaway controlled the ball for most of the final 60 seconds.
"Isn't she fun to watch," Tallant said of the 5-foot-1 Jones, who scored just two points but had six assists and six steals. "I'm glad we didn't have to play her during the year."
Berry finished with 13 points, while McDonald and Carol Ford of Horn Lake who won Most Valuable Defensive Player honors each scored 11 points. Raymond's Candace Roberts added six points and eight rebounds.
Williams finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot. Foley had six points, two rebounds, one assist and one steal, and Wayne County's Thelma Cooper scored seven points to go with five boards and one steal.
Shenma Ambrose of Bay St. Louis scored 10 for the South, while Hattiesburg's Kristie McKinley had eight.
Rocky Higginbotham is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rhigginbotham@themeridianstar.com.