Meridian takes two from Heidelberg
By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
HEIDELBERG The Meridian High Lady Wildcats rolled their record to 10-0, but not before surviving a 68-58 fight from the Heidelberg Lady Oilers.
Having built a comfortable 45-22 lead with 4:51 remaining in the third quarter after a layup from Kanecia Williams, the Lady Cats seemed to get tentative.
HHS (2-2) responded with scrappy defensive play, getting steals and exuding plenty of hustle to embark on a 9-2 run to pull to within 16.
After a three-pointer by LaKeshia Hales, who finished with 17, and steal and successive lay up by Catina Fowler the margin was nipped to 13 and the Oiler faithful worked into a frenzy.
Jessica Yates kept the pressure on the hosts with a pair of quick baskets and Hales pulled them to within six with another long three-pointer off a steal of an inbounds pass, at 49-43 with a minute to play in the third frame.
But MHS was simply too much, as the Lady Cats worked to break the press and got buckets underneath from Williams and Cantea Brown who collected 14, to finish up the quarter.
The fourth period was more of the same, as MHS extended the eight-point lead to 12 before Yates drained another three-pointer to get back to nine, but that's as close as it got the rest of the way, despite plenty of heads up defensive play from the Lady Oilers.
Williams torched the Lady Oilers defense for 26 points, while Chelse Alford and Chandra Collier each chipped in with seven.
Meridian boys 88, Heidelberg 69: The Wildcats and Oilers traded blows for the better part of three quarters before Meridian's depth wore down the hosts.
After a first-half track meet that ended 41-40 in favor of the 6-3 Wildcats, MHS head coach Ernie Watson had to make some adjustments, including stopping the torrid Oiler outside shooting.
Oiler head coach Ted Williams preferred not to dance around the defensive scheme standpoint, but instead focused on the one glaring disparity: depth.
That fact showed up on the box score, as Heidelberg (2-2) got most of its scoring from four players, including guard Michael Pierce, who hit 18 points.
The third frame was a see-saw battle and after a long-range bomb from the Oilers' Lee Jones, Meridian's margin was cut to 52-50. Jones tallied 16 points. Derrick Turner, who pumped in 15, had a stickback to inch the Oilers back to within 58-54.
But Meridian simply had too many guns.
Jeremy Ruffin ignited the Cat offense with a dunk and free-throw that pushed the lead to 14 points, before the 12-0 burst that spanned the final two periods was over. Heidelberg didn't break the drought until the five-minute mark of the quarter, after already down 19.
Ruffin again had a stellar performance with 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Quadric Griffin also had a good night shooting with 17 points, including three three-pointers. Jamaine Winfield chipped in with 13.
The board work from both teams was basically a wash, as Meridian finished with 29, to Heidelberg's 27. It was in the steals department where the Cats showed their prowess, making 23 thefts to just six for the hosts. Both teams were whistled for 18 fouls each.
Fred Stevens scored 16 for the Oilers, while Jason Windom added six for MHS.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for the Meridian Star. E-mail him at email@example.com.