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Cold shooting ends season for KA, NCA boys

By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Feb. 8, 2001
FLOWOOD Less than a week ago, Kemper Academy and Newton County Academy put on a 3-point shooting clinic in a thrilling District 3-A Tournament championship game.
Wednesday night at University Christian School, however, neither the Rams nor Generals could buy a basket especially from long range.
Kemper and NCA combined to hit 7-of-59 shots from 3-point land Wednesday, and both quietly bowed out of the Mississippi Private School Association's Class A Central Region Tournament at UCS. The Generals dropped a 45-29 decision to Tri-County Academy, while the 3-A champion Rams were stunned 56-48 by Rebul Academy in the nightcap.
Tri-County and Rebul move on to Friday night's semifinals, as well as next week's Class A State Tournament, and the wins by the Rebels and Raiders also made it a clean sweep for the District 4-A boys' teams in this week's Central Region tourney. Host University Christian and CM&I eliminated Heidelberg Academy and Sylva-Bay Tuesday.
Rebul Academy 56, Kemper Academy 48: The Rams, who just last week repeated as the District 3-A champ, never got on track as fourth-seeded Rebul ended the career of seven Kemper seniors.
The outcome of Wednesday's nightcap was also a complete role reversal of the girls' game between the same two schools when fourth-seeded Kemper surprised 4-A champ Rebul.
Kemper returned four starters from last year's team that finished second in the region tourney before making an early exit. But the Rams lost standout forward John Alan Darnell to injury more than a month ago, and finished this season with a 19-7 mark.
Wednesday, Kemper just couldn't find the touch from long range, hitting on 7-of-36 shots from 3-point range.
Still, the Rams were down just 34-31 heading into the fourth quarter, when a pair of runners in the lane by Rebul's Lupe Guerva sparked a big run that put the Raiders up 48-37 with just 1:54 left.
Kemper connected on three straight 3-pointers the last by Trent Myers at the 1:06 mark to make it a four-point deficit. But Guerva nailed four straight free throws at the other end, and the Rams never got any closer.
Guerva finished with a game-high 24 points for Rebul and Nathan Copeland scored 14 as the Raiders improved to 15-16.
Ty Harbour scored 14 and Myers 11 to lead Kemper, which got eight points apiece from Eddie Keaton and Wade Whitaker and seven from Justin Robertson. Keaton had 10 rebounds and five assists, Robertson had 14 rebounds and three steals and Whitaker yanked down 10 boards.
Tri-County Academy 45, Newton County Academy 29: If the basket appeared small to Kemper, it must have seemed a million miles away for the Generals, who dropped a disappointing decision to TCA in the first boys' game Wednesday.
Newton County Academy shot just 19 percent (13-of-68) from the field and was 0-for-23 from 3-point range.
The Generals were up 8-6 after one quarter and tied at 13-13 with the Rebels midway through the second. But Tri-County scored the final 11 points of the first half, then added seven more unanswered points to start the second half and take a 31-13 lead.
That lead ballooned to 21 early in the fourth when the Generals made one last-gasp run. Back-to-back baskets by Daniel Champion and a putback by Nathan Stamper helped bring NCA within 39-27 with just less than three minutes remaining, but that was as close as Cliff Stamper's bunch came.
Nathan Stamper finished with nine points, while Champion had eight points, 17 rebounds and three assists as NCA outrebounded Tri-County 57-41. Jason Frith scored eight and pulled down 16 rebounds, and Stamper and Chris Bounds both had seven boards.
Jace Creel scored all 11 of his points in the first half to lead Tri-County's balanced attack. Chris Queen had 10 for the Rebels, Bo Fisher nine and Stampley Perry seven.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at