Kemper County downs Bay Springs in 2A tourney
By By Rocky Higginbotham/special to The Star
Feb. 23, 2002
TAYLORSVILLE Without a doubt, Jason Forte' is the most heralded player on the floor here in the Class 2A Boys South State Tournament, having worn a big "S" on his chest for Bay Springs for the past couple of seasons.
But even a Superman-like effort from Forte' couldn't lead the Bulldogs to victory Friday night.
Kemper County put four players in double figures and overcame the torrid shooting of Forte' beating the Bulldogs 69-64 in front of a packed house at Taylorsville High School.
The win moved Kemper into today's South State championship game against host Taylorsville, which beat St. Joseph 68-55 in Friday night's other semifinal.
Bay Springs takes on St. Joseph in the consolation game at 2 p.m. today, with a berth to the Class 2A Boys State Tournament on the line. Kemper and Taylorsville, which have both now qualified for the 2A state tourney that begins Tuesday at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson, meet at approximately 3:30 this afternoon.
The pressure was squarely on Kemper early Friday night, as a red-hot Forte' nailed four 3-pointers in the first quarter alone. He had 21 points in the first 10 minutes, helping the Bulldogs to a 28-18 advantage early in the second quarter.
The Wildcats did even better. They ended the first half on a 17-5 run, taking a 35-33 lead into the locker room in a contest that had seven lead changes and five ties.
The sixth and final 3-pointer of the night from Forte' came early in the seesaw third quarter, but Kemper grabbed the momentum late in the period when Gary Griffin split Bulldogs for a steal and monster slam that made it 50-45.
Bay Springs got within 55-54 on a Forte' putback with 5:45 remaining, but Chris Davis answered with a 3-pointer at the other end for Kemper.
It was tied for the final time at 58-58, but Kenny Boyd's old-fashioned three-point play with 3:16 left put Kemper ahead for good.
James Moore scored back-to-back buckets for Kemper, then Davis knocked down 4-of-4 free throws in the final 23 seconds to seal the win.
Boyd led the Wildcats with 17 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots, while Moore had 16 points, five assists and five steals. Davis finished with 13 points, four assists and three steals, while Griffin scored 10 points and had four assists. Forte' finished 13-of-21 from the field and had a game-high 32 points. He also had nine rebounds and nine assists.