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MHS girls fall flat vs. Huffman

By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
Dec. 24, 2000
COLUMBUS If Madame Cleo's psychic hotline number is busy, you might want to give Meridian High School girls' basketball coach Donald Shirley a call.
He too can apparently see into the future.
Prior to the annual Columbus High/Wendy's Christmas Classic, Shirley said his highly-rated Lady Wildcats could very easily lose two games considering the level of competition they were about to face.
Considering the Lady Wildcats were 15-0 and ranked No. 1 in Mississippi and No. 21 in the country by USA-Today, that seemed like so much coach-speak.
Then came Friday's 51-43 loss to Tupelo, the No. 2 team in Mississippi.
A 55-41 loss to Birmingham (Ala.) Huffman on Saturday made Shirley seem prophetic.
Huffman, 10-1 and ranked No. 3 in the Class 6A poll in Alabama, scored the first 22 points in dropping Meridian to 15-2.
Huffman took a 9-0 lead when 5-foot-2 senior point guard Donyel Wheeler pulled up at the top of the key on a 3-on-5 fast break and buried a three-pointer with 5:48 left in the first quarter. Shirley called a timeout to settle his troops, but the Lady Vikings took advantage of Meridian turnovers to go up 17-0.
When Danielle Jackson completed a three-point play with 2:29 to go in the opening period, Huffman led 22-0.
Meridian finally broke the ice on a basket from Valencia Hairston with two minutes remaining in the first period.
Huffman led 26-4 after one quarter and took a 36-24 advantage into halftime after Meridian outscored the Lady Vikings 20-10 in the second period.
The Lady Wildcats managed only one point in the first four-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter as Huffman upped its lead to 40-25.
Meridian got 10 points from Kanecia Williams, nine from Cantea Brown, eight from Cassandra Harris, and six each from Hairston and Chandra Collier.
Wheeler, a University of Alabama signee, led Huffman with 17 points that included a 6-of-6 showing at the free-throw line. Latriska Jones tossed in 15 points and Jackson added 13.
Huffman was 16-of-21 at the free-throw line while Meridian was 12-of-17.
The Lady Wildcats return to action on Jan. 3 when they take on South Leake at 3:30 p.m. in the Central Mississippi Classic at Forest.
Marty Stamper is a sports correspondent for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at sports@themeridianstar.com.

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