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Kemper boys take thriller over Newton

By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Feb. 4, 2001
DECATUR Kemper and Newton County Academy have won five of the last six MPSA Academy 3-A District Tournament titles, so it was only fitting that the two met in the finals of this year's event.
It may also be fitting that the pair gave the fans at NCA the best game of the three-day tournament.
Kemper's Eddie Keaton drove the baseline for the winning shot with four seconds remaining, lifting the Rams to a repeat of the title with a 61-60 win over the homestanding Generals.
Heidelberg Academy won the boys' consolation game with a thrilling, 71-70 win over Sylva-Bay Academy. All four teams advance to the MPSA Class A Central Region Tournament, which begins Tuesday at University Christian School in Flowood.
Kemper Academy 61, Newton County Academy 60: The Generals grabbed control of this one early, then again midway through the fourth quarter before Kemper rallied behind Keaton and Ty Harbour.
NCA led 12-8 after one quarter and was up 22-12 early in the second after a 3-pointer by David Burt. But Kemper got 3s of its own from Harbour and Matthew Darnell, as the Rams outscored NCA 22-9 the rest of the quarter for a three-point edge at halftime.
The Generals pulled within 42-41 heading into the fourth, and led by as many as 56-51 with 3:41 left after a bomb by Jason Frith and a steal and layup by Daniel Champion.
Harbour answered with two 3s that brought Kemper within 58-57, and NCA led 60-57 when Champion's basket gave the Generals their final points of the night with 2:18 left.
Keaton pulled Kemper within one on a nice dish from Justin Robertson with 1:32 left and after a Newton turnover KA milked the clock before Keaton's game-winner.
The Generals called timeout with 3.4 seconds remaining, but Kemper's Wade Whitaker intercepted the second NCA pass and killed the clock.
Kemper (19-6) got 19 points and eight boards from Keaton and 14 points apiece from Harbour and Whitaker. Robertson scored eight points, while Whitaker had 11 rebounds and three assists.
The Generals were led by Champion's 23 points, five assists and five steals. Frith scored 15 and Kyle Chaney eight, while Will Bean grabbed nine rebounds for NCA which fell to 15-12.
Heidelberg Academy boys 71, Sylva-Bay Academy 70: In another barnburner, Heidelberg carried a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter and held on against cross-county rival Sylva-Bay to take third place in the tournament.
The Rebels, who are 10-13, got 21 points from Blake Bass, 18 from Scott McInnis and 14 from Lloyd Windham.
Sylva-Bay was led by Kaleb Deese, who pumped in a game-high 31 points. Andres Norvell scored 21 and Justin Smith 12.
All-Tournament Team: District champ Kemper placed Keaton, Robertson, Harbour and Whitaker on the 10-man All-District 3-A Tournament Team.
Frith, Champion and Nathan Stamper represented NCA, while Deese made the squad from Sylva-Bay and McInnis and Bass were recognized from Heidelberg.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at