Meridian claims pair of crowns
FLOOR SCRAMBLE – Quitman's Mashana Bonner looses the ball after scrambling with Heidelberg's Princess Bender for possession. See game story on C 5. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
Dec. 15, 2002
The Meridian Wildcats entered the 2002 Frazier-Yarbrough Tournament with a three-game losing streak. They left it with a three-game winning streak after beating Noxubee County 62-56 Saturday night at Meridian Community College.
Meridian had already wrapped up the girls' title but struggled with a cold-shooting night before knocking off Noxubee County 38-34.
Meridian boys 62
Noxubee County 56
The Wildcats scored 10 of the game's first 12 points before Noxubee rallied to within 17-13 by the end of the first quarter. Meridian's lead was trimmed to three (27-24) by halftime.
The Wildcats were still leading by three (38-35) to start the fourth period.
Meridian opened the final quarter with a 10-0 run to grab a 48-35 advantage with 4:30 to play.
Noxubee hung around with LaQuintas Horne hitting four of his five 3-pointers over the final three minutes.
Noxubee got to within 54-51 on a trey from Horne with just over a minute remaining, but E.J. Watson hit 5-of-6 free throws to keep Meridian with a 61-54 lead and 20 seconds remaining.
In improving to 7-4, Meridian got 11 points from tournament MVP Jason Windom, 10 from Chris McGowan, nine from Daniel Boyd, and eight from Theo Naylor.
Noxubee, 9-4, got 19 points from Horne, 13 from Omarr Conner, who hit three 3s, and eight from Brandon Tate.
Meridian girls 38
Noxubee County 34
When the Lady Cats jumped out to a 10-1 lead in the game's first four minutes, it looked like Meridian would have little problem with Noxubee. The rest of the night would be an offensive struggle as completing the tournament with a 3-0 mark proved to be quite a challenge.
The Tigerettes took their first lead of the game at 19-18 on a three-point play by Chaquita Brewer with 1:12 left in the first half. Tournament MVP Valencia Hairston scored four of her game-high 17 points in the final minute of the first half as Meridian took a 23-19 lead into intermission.
A basket and three free throws by Brittany Tate over an 84-second span gave Noxubee a 28-25 lead with 1:46 to go in the third quarter.
Meridian drew even at 30-30 on a basket by Alexis Clemons with six minutes to go only to have Erlexis Cooper score back-to-back baskets to put Noxubee back up 34-30 with 3:02 to play. A missed layup by Cooper left the door open for Meridian and the Lady Cats closed the game with an 8-0 run to get the win. Clemons hit a free throw and later added a basket off an inbounds play, while Brittany Davidson scored on a layup. Hairston made 3-of-4 free throws over the final 1:05 to secure the win.
Meridian, 9-1, also got seven points from Megan Mendiola. Hairston had 11 rebounds to go with her 17 points.
Noxubee, 7-6, got seven points from Theresa Brandy and six each from Cooper and Tate.