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Wildcats, Trojans advance

By Staff
ONE ON ONE n Northeast Lauderdale's Deltric Portis drives around Quitman's Marcus Evans. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Dec. 15, 2000
Sometimes, more really is better.
The boys teams from Meridian High and Heidelberg lit up the scoreboard in more than one way during their semifinal matchup in the 2000 Frazier-Yarbrough Memorial/Coca-Cola Classic Thursday night.
Because not only did the Wildcats and Oilers put up points, they also put up their fair share of fouls. The difference was that the Wildcats played twice as many players.
Meridian, in what head coach Ernie Watson termed "very ugly" fashion, held off Heidelberg 68-64 Thursday, earning a chance to defend its FYM title tonight.
The Wildcats will face Northeast Lauderdale a 78-62 winner over Quitman in Thursday's other boys' semifinal tonight at 8:30 p.m. for the championship. The first boys' game of the day pits Choctaw Central against Noxubee County in the consolation final.
Meridian High boys 68, Heidelberg 64: The Wildcats led the final three quarters, but had to use a pair of free throws from Tony Dunn with seven seconds left to put away the Oilers.
Meridian, which is now 10-4, led by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter, including a 59-50 advantage with 3:53 left on a thunderous slam dunk from Jeremy Ruffin that shook the goal for 30 seconds.
But Heidelberg scored the next five points to pull within 59-55, and eventually cut its deficit to three points.
Two free throws from Quadrick Griffin pushed MHS back out to a 66-60 advantage with 30.4 seconds left, but Jesse Jones got a basket 10 seconds later for Heidelberg which stole the inbounds pass and missed a layup. But Derrick Turner put it back in for the Oilers, who called a timeout down just 66-64 with 8.3 seconds left in the game.
That was as close as the Oilers, would get however, as Dunn's freebies sealed it for MHS.
Heidelberg, which is now 9-5, lost despite placing five players in double figures and outrebounding Meridian 55-43. Three of the Oilers' losses have been to the Wildcats.
The Oilers also lost two players to fouls: Fred Stephens, who had 13 points and a game-high 16 rebounds; and Jesse Jones, who scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Michael Pierce added 14 points, six boards and three steals for the Oilers, while Lee Jones scored 12 points and had three assists and Derrick Turner scored 10 points, had 11 rebounds and three blocked shots. William Dukes came off the bench to give the Oilers 12 rebounds and six blocked shots.
Meridian was led by Ruffin, who scored 15 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, had four steals and two blocks. Griffin and Dunn pumped in 14 points apiece, while Jason Windom had eight points, six rebounds and three blocked shots. Michael Davis had a team-high three assists.
Northeast Lauderdale boys 78, Quitman 62: The Trojans pulled away from the Panthers late, helping themselves to a 35-point explosion in the fourth quarter that made the difference.
Northeast was up just 26-24 at halftime, and the Trojans trailed 44-43 heading into the final period of action.
There, putbacks from Clinton Hales and DeKenno Winston pushed the Trojans ahead 58-50 and forced Quitman coach Steve Hampton into a timeout.
But things didn't get any better for Hampton's troops, as Northeast pushed its lead to double digits by the 4:10 mark. The Trojans also hit 10 consecutive free throws in the final period to keep the Panthers from making a comeback.
Five Trojans were in double figures, led by Jimmy Kelly's 17 points. Hales finished with 13, while Jamaal Martin, Marcus Betts and Stephen Dyess all scored 12 and Winston threw in eight.
Renaldo McKenzie led Quitman with 12 points, while Jason Pearson scored nine for the 5-7 Panthers. Lance Bartee and Marcus McCormick pitched in six apiece.
Rocky Higginbotham is a sportswriter for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rhigginbotham@themeridianstar.com.

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