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Meridian subdues Choctaw Central

By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Dec. 16, 2000
For the better part of the first half Friday night, Donald Shirley's biggest fears were coming true right before his eyes.Because for the better part of the first half, Choctaw Central harassed and pestered Shirley's No. 1 ranked Meridian Lady Wildcats, forcing 14 early turnovers and jumping out to an eight-point lead.
Then came the second half.
Meridian settled down, took better care of the basketball and took advantage of its size rallying past Choctaw Central 46-36 in the championship game of the 2000 Frazier-Yarbrough Memorial/Coca-Cola Classic.
The win in front of a jam-packed Turnage Gymnasium kept Meridian perfect for the season at 15-0. It also gave the Lady Wildcats ranked No. 23 in the nation by USA-Today their second straight Frazier-Yarbrough title.
Northeast Lauderdale won the girls' consolation bracket Friday afternoon, beating cross-county rival Clarkdale 50-44.
Meridian High girls 46, Choctaw Central 36: It was a simple case of protecting the basketball for the Lady Wildcats, who outrebounded Choctaw Central by an impressive 51-24 margin in the game.
During the first half, when Meridian fell behind by eight, the Lady Wildcats turned the ball over 14 times. In the second half, MHS had just three turnovers.
Meridian was up 12-9 after one quarter, but the pace became hectic and the Lady Warriors took advantage in the second quarter.
Willis Tullos' squad, which is now 11-2, scored the first 10 points of the second period, running to a 19-12 lead and forcing Shirley to call a timeout.
A three-pointer by Crystal Lewis gave Choctaw Central its biggest lead of the night at 22-14 with 3:37 left in the first half. But the Lady Warriors didn't score again before halftime, and MHS cut its deficit to four.
Kanecia Williams had a pair of baskets in an 8-0 run for Meridian to open the second half, a spurt that put the Lady Wildcats ahead to stay.
Choctaw Central was down by eight going into the final period, and cut it to five with 1:46 left on a pair of free throws by Lewis. But the momentum shifted back to Meridian with a putback from Cantea Brown at the other end, and the Lady Warriors never scored again.
Choctaw was led by eighth-grader Chantay Frazier, who scored 11 points, and Lewis, who had nine points, five assists and four steals. Melinda Ben added eight points and three steals.
Kanecia Williams scored a game-high 17 points and also pulled down seven rebounds for MHS, while Cassandra Harris had 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Brown scored nine points to go with her 21 rebounds and four blocked shots, while Stephanie Mosley had five rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Northeast Lauderdale girls 50, Clarkdale 44: The Lady Trojans had to hold off a mad rally by the Lady Bulldogs to earn the consolation win Friday afternoon.
Northeast, which improved to 8-6 on the year, led by just three points at halftime, but rode the hot hand of Dorecious Powe in the third quarter. The Lady Trojans outscored Clarkdale 24-7 in the third, getting 11 points from Powe.
That gave Dan Stegall's squad a 20-point lead, and the Lady Trojans were still up 20 with five minutes remaining. Clarkdale finished the game on a 18-4 run, but it proved too little, too late for the 7-12 Lady Bulldogs.
Powe finished with a game-high 20 points to lead Northeast, which got 12 points from Quin Jackson and 11 from Crystal Hopson.
Clarkdale was led by Tamara Brown's 13 points. Carmelita Naylor added 11 and Felicia Kirksey scored six.

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