Lady Rockets stun Meridian
By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
Jan. 24, 2001
PHILADELPHIA Neshoba Central's 5-foot-1 senior guard Tausha Evans has impressed many basketball coaches throughout her career with her tremendous quickness.
Tuesday night, she impressed an SEC head football coach.
Ole Miss' David Cutcliffe was in attendance, primarily to watch recent commitment Jeremy Ruffin of Meridian play in the boys' game, but Evans' play late in the girls' game caught his attention.
Between games, Cutcliffe said he could picture her as a cornerback.
Whether she could play big-time football is unrealistic, but in basketball, she definitely has a flair for the dramatic.
Evans scored 13 of her game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter as the Lady Rockets surprised third-ranked Meridian High 56-53.
Miranda Rosar had eight points for Neshoba, 18-8, all of which came in the first half.
The Lady Rockets also got 12 points from Elyse Willis.
Neshoba trailed 17-15 after one quarter, but used six points from Rosar to take a 32-26 lead into halftime.
A steal and layup by Meridian's Valencia Hairston tied the game at 34-34 with 2:20 left in the third period.
A three-point play by Evans with 1:09 showing and a basket from Jones at the 40-second mark gave the Lady Rockets a 41-34 advantage near the end of the third quarter.
Hairston, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, picked up her fourth foul just 11 seconds into the final period and got her fifth on a technical foul for stomping the floor in disagreement with the call. With 6-foot-1 senior Cantea Brown missing the game due to illness, Meridian's height advantage was severely diminished.
Evans hit both free throws to put Neshoba up 43-36.
Meridian got to within 52-51 on a basket from Cassandra Harris with 2:22 remaining and took a 53-52 lead on a pair of free throws from Chandra Collier with 1:53 left.
Evans came up with a loose ball near midcourt and raced for a layup to give the Lady Rockets a 54-53 edge with 1:07 to go.
After Evans misfired on an ill-advised 3-pointer with 28 seconds left, Meridian missed on a shot to re-claim the lead. Rosar got the rebound and Evans hit Jones for a layup with 13 seconds showing.
The Lady Wildcats missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer as their six-game win streak ended.
With division losses to Louisville and Noxubee County already, Smith hopes the win will get his team back on track.
Chelse Alford led Meridian, 21-3, with 13 points. Harris scored 11, while Collier and Kanecia Williams both had 10. Hairston added seven. Williams had 10 points in the first quarter, picked up her second foul with 6:29 to go before halftime, and didn't score again.
Meridian boys 68, Neshoba Central 43: The Wildcats jumped out to a 21-12 first quarter lead in taking the second game.
An 18-8 Wildcat dominance in the second period sent Meridian into halftime with a 39-20 advantage.
Neshoba trailed 50-32 to start the fourth quarter.
Tony Dunn led 12 Wildcat scorers with 15 points. Keno Leflore and Ruffin both had eight, while Ricky McMillian added seven. Meridian improved to 19-6 and goes to Brandon on Friday.
The Rockets, who were without Tawon Walker, Tavares Walker, and Desmond Jones, fell to 14-9. Calvin Parker led Neshoba with 20 points. Anthony Pickens scored seven.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at email@example.com.