Rebels, Lady Rams take titles
By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
Dec. 7, 2001
DECATUR – The Kemper Academy Lady Rams and Heidelberg Rebels are the champions of the Newton County Academy Christmas Tournament for 2001 after big wins Thursday night.
Heidelberg boys 62
Newton County 54
It's not every day the winning team manages just two baskets in the fourth quarter. It's just as rare these days that you see a team make 11-of-13 free throws in a period.
The Heidelberg Rebels had both of those events happen to them as they held off the host Generals for the boys' championship.
Heidelberg led 15-7 after one quarter and carried a 30-17 advantage into halftime. The Rebels were up 46-32 starting the fourth quarter when their offense shut down for nearly three minutes to begin the period.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Wil Bean and David White brought NCA back to within 46-40 with 5:32 remaining when Heidelberg coach Chris McDaniel called time out to slow down the comeback.
Jonathan Cranford hit two free throws with 5:16 left for a 48-40 lead and Dusty Bass added two more a minute later for a 50-40 advantage.
Dan Edwards buried a 3-pointer for a seemingly safe 53-40 lead with 3:34 remaining only to have the Generals mount their last charge.
A pair of 3s had the Generals back to within 55-50 with 1:09 left.
Heidelberg then made seven of its last eight free throws to thwart the comeback bid.
"It's one of the things we emphasize in practice daily," McDaniel said of his team's free-throw success. "It's one of the things we push these players to do and they did it very well tonight. It's one reason we won the game.
"The difference in close games are free throws. Two baskets in the fourth quarter is disappointing, but free throws paved the way for us. Thank goodness they did. We needed them tonight."
Edwards led Heidelberg with 17 points. Bass scored 15, Lloyd Windham had 12, Cranford 10, and Paul Zeagler six.
NCA got 19 points from Bean, 11 from Jonathan Moore, and eight from White.
Kemper girls 54
Kemper outscored Central in all four quarters to win the girls' championship by 31 points.
The Lady Rams led 11-6 after one quarter, 24-14 at halftime, and 43-21 heading into the fourth quarter.
Kemper outscored Central 30-9 in the second half.
Megan Whitaker led Kemper with 16 points. Eve Darnell scored 11 and Blair Johnson added nine.
"This is the best defensive game we've played all year," Kemper coach Russell Cruise said. "Eve Darnell kept them out of an offense all night with the pressure she put on them. You can't run a set offense from halfcourt."
Central committed 35 turnovers.
"Megan Whitaker had another great night," Cruise said. "She rebounded the ball well. She's just a great athlete."
The win was Kemper's seventh in a row as the Lady Rams improved to 9-3.
"We're attacking the basket in fullcourt and in halfcourt," Cruise said of the streak. "Six different people have been our high scorer so far."
Central, 3-8, got eight points each from Leslie Hancock and Lynlee Healy.
Heidelberg girls 59
Newton County 40
Heidelberg outscored NCA 40-22 in the second half to take third place. The Lady Rebels led by only one (19-18) at halftime before outscoring NCA 20-6 in the third quarter to go up 39-24.
Suzanne Lightsey led Heidelberg, 4-4, with 24 points, 19 of which came in the second half. Lightsey connected on five 3-pointers. Ashley McGinnis scored 18 points for the Lady Rebels.
NCA, 4-7, got 14 points from Andi Chesney and 12 each from Casey McMahan and Cassie Cleveland.
Kemper boys 46
The Rams outscored Central 13-1 in the first quarter and took a 21-8 lead into halftime of the third-place boys' game.
The Vikings rallied to close to 30-23 by the end of the third quarter.
Kemper was led by Adam Davis with 16 points, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter. John Warren scored 10, Justin Wiggins had nine, and Jake Hand tossed in seven.
Central, 0-8, got nine points from Craig Giesbrecht and eight from Ross Brown.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at email@example.com or call him at 693-1551, ext. 3235.