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Choctaw girls win thriller

By Staff
TIGHT DEFENSE n West Lauderdale's Patty Monroe tries to cut off Choctaw Central's Crystal Lewis in Tuesday night's contest. Choctaw won 66-64. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Robbie Robertson/The Meridian Star
Dec. 6, 2000
Choctaw Central girls basketball coach Willis Tullos wasn't pleased with the way his team played at West Lauderdale last year.
For the most part, he was pleased with what he saw Tuesday night.
Tullos' Lady Warriors held off a late West Lauderdale rally and won a 66-64 contest, despite missing 7-of-9 free throws down the stretch.
Choctaw Central improves to 6-1 and will travel to Louisville Thursday for the Louisville Invitational Tournament. West Lauderdale falls to 10-4 and will host their own invitational tournament this week.
For West coach Jody Hurst, it was another learned lesson for his young Lady Knights.
West grabbed an early 5-3 lead in the contest on a Huggins layup and the lead went back and forth until Choctaw Central took a 19-16 lead after the first.
Choctaw pulled out to a 28-19 lead with 6:09 left in the half as Crystal Lewis drained a three-pointer.
But West fought back as Huggins started to take over. Her free throw at the 2:03 mark tied the game at 31-31 and Shannon Lloyd's bucket with 1:26 left gave West a momentary 33-32 lead.
But Choctaw outscored West 5-2 top end the half with a 37-35 lead.
After falling behind 44-37 in the third, West took the lead at the 4:42 mark on a pair of Kristina Gardner free throws to make the score 45-42.
That's when Choctaw hit three straight three-pointers, two by Ferne Denson and led 51-45 at the end of the third.
West came back again and took the lead as Gardner hit a three at the 5:16 mark to make the score 54-53. But Choctaw reeled off nine unanswered points and led 62-54 at the 3:52 mark.
West gradually chipped away at the Choctaw lead as the Lady Warriors had trouble at the foul line and Gardner's layup with 1:06 left cut the score to 65-64.
But West couldn't convert on the missed free throws and Choctaw hung on for the two-point win.
Melinda Ben led Choctaw with 19 points while Denson and Deaundrea Johnson each had 13 points apiece. Lewis chipped in nine.
For West, Huggins had a game-high 20 points to go along with 11 rebounds. Gardner added 19 while Jawanda Huggins had 10 points.
West Lauderdale boys 66, Choctaw Central 60: West Lauderdale jumped out to an early lead and never let Choctaw Central back in the game as the Knights led the entire contest.
West, which improved to 6-8 with the win, used the hot three-point shooting of Boo Ramsey to take the early advantage. Ramsey hit three threes in the first period as the Knight continually broke the Warrior press for easy shots and led 24-15 after the first. West maintained that advantage in the second and led 37-25 at the half.
The Warriors gradually chipped away at the Knights' lead in the second half as Walter Wilson's troops outscored West 16-13 in the third to make the score 50-41.
Choctaw made a run and got to within four points with 2 minutes left in the contest but West quickly pulled back out and held on for the win.
Calvin Moore led all scorers with 34 points for West while Choctaw was led by Jason Shumake who had 14. Devon Jim added 12 on four three-pointers.
Robbie Robertson is sports editor for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at