Kemper beats Newton in division showdown
DRIVING Kemper County's Gary Griffin helped the Kemper County Wildcats to a win 79-65 over Newton. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Rocky Higginbotham/special to the star
Jan. 23, 2002
DEKALB Charles Jackson has had some high-flyers during his 12 years of guiding the Kemper County boys' basketball team.
But Tuesday night, even the 31-year coaching veteran couldn't remember a game in which his Wildcats had more slam dunks.
With first place in Division 5-2A on the line, Kemper County threw down seven dunks and whipped visiting Newton 79-65, all but wrapping up the top seed in next month's division tournament.
Newton earned a split in the division twinbill by winning the girls' game, avoiding a major upset with a 47-43 win over the Lady Wildcats.
In the boys' contest, Kemper scored the last seven points of the first quarter to take a 21-16 lead, and the Wildcats were up 38-33 at halftime.
Newton was within 41-40 after an old-fashioned three-point play by Bobby Lindsey early in the third quarter, but that's when the Wildcats cranked it up a notch.
Back-to-back slams from James Moore and Kendrick Benneman capped a 9-0 Kemper run to make it 50-40, forcing Newton coach Crandel Porter into a timeout.
But the run wasn't over, as the Wildcats got 3-pointers from Chris Davis and Terrance Westerfield during a 15-6 spurt that put Kemper ahead 65-46 with 7:34 left in the contest.
A monster putback slam from Gary Griffin gave Kemper its biggest lead of the night at 69-51 with 4:20 remaining. Newton scored the next seven points to pull within 11, but Moore's driving layup and another basket by Davis with 1:48 left put the nail in the coffin.
Five players scored in double figures for Kemper, led by Griffin's 15 points. Kenny Boyd scored 14, Davis had 13, Moore 12 and Westerfield 11. The Wildcats also had five players with at least two assists led by Moore and Davis with nine and seven dishes. Boyd had nine rebounds and Griffin eight, while Moore had four steals and Davis three.
Coshune Bingham led Newton with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Ladarrian Blaylock had 15 points and six boards. Lindsey scored 11 points, Zack Logan scored eight, Danule McNair handed out four assists and Blaylock and Bingham each had three steals.
Kemper moved to 20-6 overall and 7-1 in the Division 5-2A race and will host B.L. Moor Friday. Newton stands 12-11 overall and 6-2 in division play, and the Tigers' bruising schedule continues Friday at home against South Leake.
Newton girls 47
Kemper County 43
In a contest that featured 12 lead changes and 11 ties, Kemper County nearly pulled off a stunner before Newton finished the game with nine unanswered points.
Kemper, which is 6-14 overall and 1-7 in division play, took the lead for the final time at 41-38 on a 3-pointer from Monique Mosley with 5:35 remaining.
After two free throws by Erica White with 4:53 on the game clock, the lead was 43-38. But that was the last time the Lady Wildcats scored.
Newton tied it on a jumper at the free-throw line from Kotreece Bender with 2:29 remaining and took the lead on a bucket by Jessica Anderson just 24 seconds later.
It stayed a 45-43 game until 22 seconds remained, when the Lady Tigers got an easy basket by Creoshia Williams out of their spread offense to make it a two-possession game.
Williams finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, while Lenore Gray had 15 points and a game-high 17 rebounds to lead Newton. Bender had six points, eight rebounds, five assists and five steals and Twila Clayton scored eight points.
Newton, which turned the ball over 27 times, improved to 18-4 overall and 6-2 in division play.
Kemper got an incredible defensive performance from Candra McCoy, who had just six points but 12 rebounds, four steals and nine blocked shots with eight of the blocks coming in the third quarter alone.
Mosley led the Lady Wildcats with 11 points, and she also had eight rebounds and four steals. Stephanie Nicholson scored 10, while Tamician Davis had seven points, six assists and four steals.