Choctaws top Rams for title
By By Jeff Byrd/staff writer
June 16, 2002
With their big man fouled early in the first half, the Choctaw Warriors needed to find some help for Jacksonville State signee James Denson. They found it in former Choctaw Central guard Randy Tangle.
Tangle scored a game high 27 points to lift the Warriors past the Meridian Rams 73-63 in the State Games of Mississippi gold medal game for Adult Mens Basketball Saturday night at the Meridian High Gym. This was the Warriors' second gold in three years.
Denson had a big first half scoring 13 of his 15 points. That was good enough to hand the Warriors a 34-23 lead at the half.
The Rams, however, refused to fold. They had forced a second title game by beating the Warriors 66-63 in overtime in the first would-be championship game.
The Rams were paced by former Meridian Community College standouts Robert Ivy and Sammy Cole. They also had Ole Miss football player Jeremy Ruffin to bang inside against the Warrior's 6-foot-6 center and former ECCC post Keith Bell.
MCC signee and former Meridian High player Quad Griffin led a Ram comeback hitting 10 points in a flurry that cut the Warrior lead to 38-36 with 13 minutes to play.
Tangle and Demando Mingo began warming back up. The pair combined for nine points to extend the lead back to 47-36. Two more baskets by Mingo made it 59-45 with six minutes to play.
Cole brought the Rams back to within seven at 65-58 after consecutive threes. But a three-point play by Tangle sent the lead back to 10 and the Rams never threatened again.
Mingo ended with 11 points.
Ivy had 15 to lead the Rams. Griffin had 14, followed by Cole with 13.
In the first final, the Rams outscored the Warriors 10-7 in overtime. Jeremy Ruffin had two key inside baskets for the Rams. He ended with a game high 15 points.
Ivy had 14 hitting three treys. Cole had 12, all off three-pointers. Denson scored 19 to pace the Warriors while Bell chipped in 11 before fouling out with 6:33 left.
The Rams beat Mid South 68-65 to reach the finals. Cole had 15 in the elimination game while Griffin chipped in 12. Mid South went 2-2 to earn the bronze medal.