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Wildcats upset Columbus

By Staff
Meridian's Matthew Gonzalez, left, Jamaine Winfield and Josh Walker surround Columbus's Elency Erby.
By Jeff Byrd/staff writer
Jan. 12, 2002
Columbus may have entered Friday's game with Meridian as the state's top ranked team, but for now, Meridian is the top cat in Division 2-5A.
Coach Ernie Watson's Wildcats pulled off the upset beating No. 1-ranked Columbus 44-34 here Friday night before a full-house at Meridian Community College's Ivy Sports Center.
The win moves Meridian to 2-0 inside the rugged, four-team division which also features third-ranked Starkville and Tupelo. The Wildcats are now 13-8 on the season. Columbus falls to 19-2.
In the earlier game, Columbus came back from 10 points down to slip past the Lady Wildcats 53-50. The seventh ranked Lady Falcons improve to 19-3 while the Meridian girls fall to 12-9.
Meridian Boys 44
Columbus 34
Save for a few spurts in the first half, this was a defensive struggle. Columbus came in with a big team known for its tough defense. The Falcons, however, had problems scoring on the offensive end against a well-prepared Meridian club.
Watson said his Wildcats responded to the challenge.
Meridian was trailing late in the third quarter at 31-29 when Tony Dunn made a base-line basket to tie it at 31-all. He then followed it up by draining a three-pointer on the final shot of the quarter giving the Wildcats a 34-31 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
A tough, six-foot leaner by Keno Leflore upped the lead to 36-31. Cole then made a nice, one-on-one basket in the lane to put Meridian up 38-31.
Columbus would not score its first point of the quarter until the two-minute mark on a made free throw.
Meridian though, came back with a crucial basket when Dunn scored on a breakaway following a loose-ball scramble near mid-court.
Columbus' lone basket of the quarter came with 16 seconds left on a five-footer by Jamall Doughty.
Dunn, who was benched for the first half, wound up leading Meridian with 11 points. Cole had 10 and Leflore eight. Julian Harris and Doughty had six each to pace Columbus.
Meridian opened the game strong breaking out to a 17-8 lead after one quarter. Quonn Carlisle and EJ Watson both nailed three-pointers to lift the Wildcats.
Columbus came back with a 14-2 run to go up 22-21. Meridian answered with two baskets by Cole to retake the lead at 25-22 as the half ended.
Columbus Girls 53
Meridian 50
The Lady Wildcats let this one get away. They led seventh-ranked Columbus 37-27 with 2:03 to go in the third quarter.
But the Lady Falcons caught fire hitting four, critical three-pointers over a four-minute span to not only erase Meridian's advantage but take the lead.
What I didn't like was our shot selection. It left a lot to be desired. We didn't play very smart," Shirley added.
The first key trey for Columbus came from center Michele Poindexter late in the third quarter. Stephanie Spann, Jenni Ferlatham and Courtney Sheldan all hit in the fourth quarter to put the Lady Falcons up 45-43 with 5:31 to go.
Meridian came back to tie it for the final time at 47-all on a putback by Kierra Williams. Columbus answered with two free throws from Poindexter to retake the lead at 49-47.
Stephanie Mason had a good shot to get Meridian even, but the laner came up short. Columbus went off on a break and scored on a layup by Rachel Palmer to make it 51-47.
Poindexter and Spann each scored 11 to pace Columbus. Dianca Jones and Brittany Wilson had eight.
Meridian was led once again by 6-1 junior post Valencia Hairston who had a game high 23 points. She made nine field goals and was 5-of-6 from the line.
Megan Mendiola, Mason and Latishea Jones all had seven points.