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West girls nip NE Lauderdale

By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Dan Stegall said he wasn't sure if his Northeast Lauderdale girls had anything left after a thrilling win over Southeast in Thursday night's opening round of the Lauderdale County Tournament
West Lauderdale coach Jody Hurst, however, said he expected nothing less than a war from Stegall's troops. And that's exactly what the Lady Knights got.
West overcame a sluggish start and held off Northeast down the stretch, taking control of the county tourney with a 58-55 win over the Lady Trojans at Meridian Community College's Ivy Sports Center.
Southeast Lauderdale won the other girls' game Friday, beating Clarkdale 97-45.
Tonight's girls' games have Clarkdale and Northeast battling at 4 p.m. and Southeast taking on West at 7 p.m.
West Lauderdale girls 58, Northeast 55: The Lady Trojans started the game with a 12-3 run and led until the midway point of the second quarter before falling to 3-4 on the season.
Northeast was clinging to a six-point advantage when West began to cook, getting five straight points off a pair of steals from Julie McCrory to close to within 23-22 at the 3:24 mark of the second quarter.
Those five points started a 9-0 run for West that put the Lady Knights up 26-23, although Northeast got baskets from Quin Jackson and Andrea Harrison to tie things at 27-27 at halftime.
J.J. Huggins took over for the Lady Knights in the third, however, scoring eight points as West opened up a nine-point advantage.
Northeast rallied to tie things at 46-46 with 4:54 remaining on a basket by Jackson, but the Lady Trojans never led again.
Two McCrory free throws with 1:36 on the clock put West up 51-48, then Huggins stole the inbounds pass and laid it in to push her team ahead by five.
J.J. Huggins led the 4-2 Lady Knights with 17 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, while McCrory finished with 14 points, six steals and five assists. Jawanda Huggins had nine points and six rebounds, Shannon Lloyd scored eight points and Kristina Gardner had seven points and seven rebounds.
Jackson scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Northeast, which got 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists from Dorecious Powe. Tamara Gibbs scored 10 and Chasity Brown added eight.
Southeast girls 97, Clarkdale 45: In a contest that was overshadowed by the record-breaking night of Southeast's Monique Horner, the Lady Tigers had no trouble disposing of Clarkdale.
Southeast improved to 5-3 behind a career-high 64 points from Horner, who scored 19 points in the first quarter alone as the Lady Tigers ran out to a 26-10 lead.
Horner attributed the fast start by her team to a late Thursday night practice the Lady Tigers enjoyed after dropping a buzzer-beater to Northeast Lauderdale.
Clarkdale tried to keep it close behind Carmelita Naylor, but when the Lady Bulldogs went dry from the field, Southeast outscored them 28-0 during a six-minute stretch in the third quarter.
In addition to her 64 points, Horner had a triple-double with 19 rebounds and 11 assists, and her seven steals left her just three shy of a quadruple-double.
Lesley Ruffin added 10 points, Shalonda Mitchell scored nine and had seven rebounds and Samantha Smith scored eight.
Naylor led Clarkdale with 20 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Rocky Higginbotham is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rhigginbotham@meridianstar.com.

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