Choctaw Central and Meridian to square off in finals
TRIPPED UP A Heidelberg player trips over Meridian's Cassandra Harris as they scramble for a loose ball Thursday. Meridian won the game 63-48. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Dec. 15, 2000
For the third straight year, Choctaw Central will meet Meridian High School in the finals of the Frazier-Yarbrough Memorial/Coca-Cola Classic basketball tournament.
But for three quarters Thursday night, it didn't look like the Lady Warriors would be playing in tonight's finals.
Choctaw Central erased a double-digit deficit in the second half, knocking off Noxubee County 74-67 in a classic semifinal between two of the area's best teams.
Top-seeded and top-ranked Meridian won the other girls' semifinal at MHS Thursday, pulling away from Heidelberg in the second half for a 63-48 victory.
Girls' action in the Frazier-Yarbrough begins today at Meridian High at 4 p.m. with a consolation game between Clarkdale and Northeast Lauderdale. Choctaw Central and Meridian tangle in the finals at 7 p.m.
Choctaw Central 74, Noxubee County 67: For the second time this season, the Lady Warriors defeated Noxubee. And for the second time, it wasn't easy.
Choctaw, which is now 11-1 on the season, won despite being down by 11 points in the third quarter and despite being outrebounded 56-38.
Choctaw couldn't handle Noxubee early, when the Tigerettes ripped off 25 points in the first quarter on their way to a 42-35 lead at halftime.
Legendary coach Narvel Colemon watched his squad open that lead to 11 with two quick putbacks in the third quarter, and Noxubee still led by 11 midway through the period.
But Choctaw Central's quickness and three-point shooting eventually wore Noxubee down. The Lady Warriors got three-pointers from Willa Thomas and Ferne Denson to pull to within 55-52 heading into the final quarter, where they forced seven of Noxubee's 16 turnovers.
In the fourth, the Lady Warriors opened with a 15-2 run, going up by as many as 10 points before the Tigerettes could catch their breath.
Noxubee got as close as 71-67 on three Shawnequa Rucker free throws with 29 seconds left, but the Tigerettes still saw their 14-game winning streak halted.
Eighth-grader Chantay Frazier had the hot hand for Choctaw, scoring 21 points and picking four steals. Shavon Willis hit five three-pointers and finished with 17 points, while Denson who didn't score at all in the first half wound up with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Thomas scored seven and Melinda Ben had six.
Erlexis Cooper pumped in 19 points and grabbed 21 rebounds to lead Noxubee, while Jessica Mason had a double-double with 15 points and 13 boards. Rucker scored 13 and had seven assists, Chaffie Spann had eight points, five assists and five steals, Tiffany Murray scored six points to go with eight rebounds and five steals and Jennifer Porter had six points and six boards.
Meridian High girls 63, Heidelberg 48: The Lady Wildcats started and finished strong to knock off the Lady Oilers in Thursday night's second girls' semifinal.
Meridian coasted to a 20-7 lead after one quarter, only to see Heidelberg finish the first half on a 17-6 run to pull within two points at halftime.
But MHS pushed its lead back to double digits in the third quarter, and Heidelberg got no closer than seven points in the final period of play.
Meridian, which is now a perfect 14-0 on the season, got 21 points from Dandy Dozen forward Cantea Brown, who was one of four Lady Wildcats in double figures. Kanecia Williams scored 14 and Cassandra Harris and Chandra Collier had 10 apiece.
Jessica Yates pumped in a game-high 25 points to lead Heidelberg, while Lakesha Hales scored 10. Nedra Hosey's Lady Oilers are now 9-6, with three losses to Meridian.
Rocky Higginbotham is a sportswriter for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at email@example.com.