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Mississippi All Stars blow out Alabama

By By Laurence Hilliard/ Special to The Star
June 10, 2002
CLINTON The 2001-2002 season was supposed to be a lean year for senior boys basketball talent in the state of Mississippi, with most of the highly rated players underclassmen. Player-of-the-Year Jackie Butler of McComb and Travis Outlaw of Starkville were juniors, Al Jefferson of Prentiss and Henry Salter of 5A state champion Gulfport sophomores and Monta Ellis of 4A champion Lanier a freshmen.
But the best of the seniors looked plenty good enough Saturday as the Magnolia State romped to a 98-67 win in the 12th Mississippi-Alabama All Star Game at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the campus of Mississippi College. It was Mississippie's biggest margin in the history of the game.
That gave Mississippi a split for the day following Alabama's 76-71 victory in the girls game. The boys series is now tied 6-6, while Alabama holds a 7-5 lead in girls play.
Down early 19-13, MIssissippi went on a 14-2 run for lead that was it never relinquished. It was 50-40 at the half, and after intermission, the Mississippians kept pulling away until the final 31-point margin, the largest of the game, was achieved when team MVP Edrick Montgomery of Wingfield put an explanation mark on the outcome when he took a pass from John Gray of Wayne County for a monster dunk with 4 seconds on the clock.
Jackson wasn't totally surprised by the one-sided win. "I knew we had shooters on this team. I knew if we played good defense and played together, we would do well.
Montgomery, a 6-7 forward bound for Jackson State, led the way with a game-high 22 points, 18 in the second half, but he had plenty of help from everyone on the 12-man roster, including four others in double figures. Andrew Westmoreland of Oxford had 12 points, Jason Forte of Bay Springs, Vas'Shun Newborne of Natchez and Ricky Hood of Tupelo 11 each. Newborne also had a game-high 9 rebounds, all on the defensive end, as Mississippi outrebounded the taller Alabama team, 56-42.
Nine of Forte's 11 points came on 3-pointers, including 2 in the first half when it was still a close game.
Jackson also got a strong all-around performance from Gray, who he coached at Wayne County. Gray had 7 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists. "I was really pround of him," Jackson said.
Team MVP Daron Ray of LeFlore led Alabama with 12 points andJonathan Threldkel of Hubbertville had 11.
Unlike the boys game
The girls went right down to the wire. But in the end, the difference was a 19-2 run for Alabama between the 15- and 10-minute marks of the first half that was fueled by the deadly 3-point shooting of Shani Jones of Livingston.
Jones made 4 treys in a three-minute stretch and never hit anything but net. "That first one gave me confidence," she said of a a shot from NBA 3-point distance that pulled Alabama within a point at 10-9.
Less than 30 seconds later, she made another, again from well behind the arc, to give Alabama its first lead, 12-10. Mississippi pulled even in the second half, but never regained the lead.
Jones made a fifth 3-pointer in the second half and finished with a team-high 17 points.
Alabama built up a 16-point lead, 37-21, late in the first half, and led 44-31 at intermission. But Mississippi stromed back, outscoring Alabama 22-9 over the first seven minutes of the second half to even the score at 53.
Alabama regained a lead it would never relinquish with an 8-0 run, the first four coming on baskets by Mississippi State signee Tiffany Moore of Sparkman, the tallest player on either team at 6-2.
The closest Mississippi came the rest of the way was 70-68 at the one-minute mark on a three-pointer by Claudia Johnson of Ripley.
Alabama MVP Chantrius Stone had 15 points and a game-high 21 rebounds and Moore scored 11 points. For Mississippi, team MVP Tosha Christmas of 4A champion Provine scored a game-high 22 points. Kimyatta Viverette of Lake had 13 points and 19 rebounds and JaQuita Benard of Warren Central 11 points.
In the end, Missisippi was a victim of its own cold shooting. The Mississippians were only 9 of 47 from the floor in the first half and 4 of 17 from the line after intermission.
Mississippi Player-of-the-Year LaToya George and all-stater Ellen Buchanan of 3A champion New Albany both averaged 26 points during the season. But they were off the mark with most of their shots Saturday, combining for only 9 points.

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