South Leake claims Classic title

By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
Sunday, December 3, 2000
DECATUR What do South Leake coach Richard Rivers and Newton County coach Johnny Slaughter have in common?
They both live in Union, they both had teams in the finals of the Central Mississippi Classic finals Saturday night at East Central Community College, and going into the game, both coaches had seen their respective team lose just once this season.
What they don't have in common is that Rivers' defending Class 2A state champion Wildcats left town with the championship trophy after posting a surprisingly easy 77-52 victory over the Cougars.
The Wildcats scored 27 of the game's first 37 points and led 29-12 after one quarter.
When Cougar big man Tony Smith picked up his fourth foul with 2:36 left in the second half, the Wildcats were up 41-27 and closed the half with a 6-3 run to take a 47-30 advantage into halftime.
South Leake, 10-1, led by 22 (59-37) to start the fourth quarter. The Wildcats led by as much as 33 (77-44) in the final period as they won here for the second time in the last three years. They have advanced to the championship game all three years.
A balanced scoring attack keyed the Wildcats' win. Jamal Brown scored 21 points, Kalus Johnson had 17, tournament MVP Adrian Kelly added 16, Chris Bloodsaw scored 11, and Jerry Luckett and Lakendrick Fortune both had six.
The Wildcats' only loss this year was at Neshoba Central.
The Cougars, 7-2, got 19 points from Al Willis, 11 from Tory Huddleston, nine from Delvioun Merrell, and six from Smith.
Newton boys 71, Forest 66: Mario Qualls was 5-of-6 at the free-throw line in the final 17.4 seconds as the Tigers snapped a 66-66 tie and took home third place with their win over the Bearcats.
Forest led 14-9 after one quarter and held a 29-25 halftime lead. The Bearcats stretched their lead to 46-37 by the end of the third quarter, but Newton outscored Forest 34-20 in the fourth quarter to beat the Cats for the second time this week.
Qualls, who finished with 21 points after tallying 16 in the fourth quarter, hit the second of two free throws with 17.4 seconds showing to give the Tigers a 67-66 lead. Qualls then stole the ball and was fouled, making two freebies with 4.8 seconds remaining. Qualls added the icing with a pair of free shots with 1.1 second left.
Newton, 7-2, also got 13 points from Bobby Lindsey, 11 from Lance Pruitt, nine from Charles Dukes, and seven from Terrell Edwards.
Forest, 5-5, got 32 points from Paul Brown who hit six 3-pointers. James Dixon tossed in 11 points, while Charles Rhodes and Maurice Longmire both had nine.
Neshoba Central boys 72, West Lauderdale 64: Fifth place went to the Rockets as they improved to 8-2.
Neshoba trailed 16-15 after one quarter, but a 22-9 advantage in the second period sent the Rockets into halftime with a 37-25 lead.
West responded with a 22-14 advantage in the third quarter to pull to within 51-47 to start the fourth quarter.
The Knights drew even at 59-59 with just over two minutes remaining, but a basket by Calvin Parker and another by Tawon Walker off a steal less than 10 seconds later gave Neshoba a 63-59 lead with 1:50 left.
A three-point play by Van Wilson pulled West to within 63-62 seven seconds later, but the Rockets sealed the win with a free throw and a basket from Tavares Walker.
Neshoba got 26 points from Tawon Walker, 13 from Landon Byars, 11 each from Tavares Walker and Desmond Jones, and seven from Chris Owen.
Calvin Moore used a 31-point second half to lead the Knights, 5-8, with a game-high 39 points.
Boo Ramsey scored 12 and Wilson had 11.