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Kemper falls to Newton County

By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Dec. 6, 2000
DEKALB For as bad as the Kemper County boys' basketball team looked in the first half here Tuesday night, the Wildcats still had a chance to beat Newton County.
But each time Kemper gained the momentum, Al Willis was there to take it away.
Willis knocked down a pair of momentum-killing three-pointers and scored a game-high 21 points to lead the visiting Cougars to a 63-56 win over Kemper County in a non-division matchup of Division 5-3A rivals.
Newton County also won the girls' contest, pulling away from Kemper in the second half for a 62-47 win.
The Lady Cougars are now 12-1 on the year, while Newton County's boys are 8-2. Kemper County's boys are 5-4 and the Lady Wildcats are 1-8.
Both of Kemper's teams will be in action Thursday in the West Lauderdale Tournament, when the Lady Wildcats battle Union at 6 p.m. and the KCHS boys take on Union at 7:30.
Newton County's next action is Friday, when it hosts Meridian.
Newton County boys 63, Kemper County 56: Willis pumped in 21 points, grabbed six rebounds and five steals as the Cougars held off a second-half rally by the Wildcats.
The Cougars won despite 18 turnovers, but it was 24 turnovers by Kemper that eventually cost the Wildcats.
Veteran head coach Charles Jackson watched his team go more than seven minutes without scoring in the first half, as Newton County reeled off 16 unanswered points on its way to a 25-12 advantage at halftime.
The Cougars stretched that lead to as many as 17 points early in the third quarter before Kemper began its comeback. The Wildcats got as close as four points before Newton County took a 41-34 lead into the fourth.
There, Willis knocked down the second of his three three-pointers on the night. And after the momentum shifted back to Kemper and big man Kenny Boyd, Willis knocked down another bomb to spark seven straight points by the Cougars that put the game out of reach for all practical purposes.
In addition to Willis, Newton County got 13 points and nine rebounds from Tony Smith, seven points from Mylan Anderson, six points and four assists from Justin Smith and six points apiece from Lewis Coker and Chris Wansley.
Kemper was led by Boyd's 14 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots. Mario Smoot scored 13 points, Gary Griffin scored nine, Terrance Westerfield scored seven and had five assists and RonTerrian Dale pulled in six rebounds.
Newton County girls 62, Kemper County 47: The Lady Cougars had a much tougher time with the one-win Lady Wildcats than expected, but Newton County put together an 18-2 run to open the fourth quarter that put the game away.
Kemper led 11-8 after one quarter and 26-24 at halftime when Newton County went to a full-court press.
The result was a 10-2 run to open the second half. But the Lady Cougars had their own problems with turnovers, as well, and Kemper got a pair of buckets from Tamician Davis at the end of the third quarter to pull back to within 38-36.
Three-pointers from Kristin Chaney and Tamekia Foley to open the fourth gave Newton County an eight-point advantage and started the 18-2 run that killed Kemper's hopes of an upset.
Chaney and Foley shared game-high honors with 19 points apiece. Foley added seven rebounds, four steals and four blocked shots, while Chaney had six rebounds, three assists and six steals. April Bufkin pumped in 18 points, had eight rebounds and three steals, Yolanda Johnson had eight rebounds and Stephanie Airhart had three assists.
Davis and Monique Mosley led Kemper County with 17 points apiece. Davis also had five boards, seven assists and three steals, while Mosley had three assists and three steals. Candra McCoy contributed seven rebounds, four steals and four blocks for Kemper, while LaErika Ivy pulled down eight rebounds.
Newton County outrebounded Kemper 43-32 and won despite 18 turnovers. Nine of Kemper County's 19 turnovers came in the decisive fourth quarter.
Rocky Higginbotham is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at