Lady Wildcats fall to Noxubee County, 58-48
By By Rocky Higginbotham/Special to The Star
Dec. 16, 2001
Jessica Mason may not have been one of the marquee 6-footers on the floor in Saturday night's Frazier-Yarbrough Memorial Tournament.
But the 5-foot-9 senior forward from Noxubee County certainly made her presence felt.
With 6-foot teammate Erlexis Cooper battling foul trouble the entire contest, Mason carried the load in Noxubee's 58-48 win that gave the seventh-ranked Tigerettes the FYM tournament championship.
Mason pumped in 27 points and grabbed a game-high 19 rebounds, earning Most Valuable Player honors in the tourney and helping lead the Tigerettes (16-1) to their 16th consecutive victory.
In Saturday's other girls' contest in the round-robin tournament, Heidelberg edged Quitman 39-34.
MHS girls 48
The 12th-ranked Lady Wildcats, who lost to Noxubee County for the second time this season and fell to 9-5 overall, actually started the game with a 9-0 run.
In fact, Meridian was still up by nine with 3:28 left in the first quarter when Cooper went to the bench with her second foul.
Meridian was up 15-9 after one quarter and 17-9 after 6-foot-1 junior Valencia Hairston put back a teammate's miss with 7:36 showing before halftime. But that was the last time Meridian would score over the next six-plus minutes.
Noxubee ran off 11 straight points during the MHS drought, including a 3-pointer from Shawnequa Rucker and a basket by Mason that made it 20-17. The Tigerettes got another 3 from Rucker before the half ended, and took a 25-19 advantage into the locker room.
Meridian cut it to 35-33 heading into the final quarter, and tied it at 35-all with 7:21 left on a basket by Hairston. But Mason answered with an old-fashioned three-point play at the other end and Noxubee was up for good.
Two putbacks from Mason sparked a 9-2 run by Noxubee that made it a 47-39 game before the Lady Wildcats made one final push. A steal and layup by Hairston and two free throws from Stephanie Mosley pulled the Lady Wildcats within 47-44 with 1:45 left.
Noxubee answered with the next seven points, going up 54-44 with 43 seconds remaining after a putback from Jennifer Porter and a Mason basket off a nifty pass from Rucker.
In addition to Mason's 27 points and 19 rebounds, Noxubee got 12 points from Rucker, six assists and five steals from Chaffie Spann, eight boards from Cooper and six points each from Porter and Latanya Williams.
Hairston had a game-high 28 points for Meridian, and she also had 14 rebounds, six blocked shots and three steals. Mosley scored 12 points and had three steals.
Noxubee returns to action next week in the Columbus Christmas Classic, while Meridian won't see action again until after Christmas in a Hattiesburg Tournament.
Quitman girls 34
The Lady Oilers improved to 6-7 with a victory over the Lady Panthers in a defensive struggle Saturday afternoon.
Heidelberg trailed 9-8 after one period and 18-15 at halftime. But the Lady Oilers outscored Quitman by four in the third period to grab the momentum.
Shawana Stevens scored eight points to lead Heidelberg, which got seven points from Catina Fowler and six apiece from Keiyana James and Jessica Yates.
Evay Blanks led Quitman with nine points, while veteran coach Judy Morgan got eight points from Kemonica McGee and seven from Shaquilla Mack.