Cats too tough for NW Rankin

By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
Feb. 14, 2001
WAYNESBORO In the opening night of the Division 5-5A Tournament, the No. 2 seed Meridian High Wildcats came out and quickly established a level of toughness that would ultimately propel them to a 74-60 victory over the Northwest Rankin Cougars in front of a packed Thunderdome at Wayne County High School.
The second part of Watson's plan might not have taken effect until the Cougars opened the half with a 10-3 run to pull to within 48-43 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
But just when it seemed as if the Cougars would steal the momentum, Tony Dunn stuck a miss back in to push the lead back to seven. Then Marcus Melvin blocked a Jamaine Winfield shot and directly on the other end, Jeremy Ruffin blocked a Cougar offering that led to a running 3-point opportunity by Michael Davis that got it back to 55-45.
A Patrick Lindsey free throw pulled the Cougars back to within single digits at the 2:46 mark of the third. It stayed that way until Jason Windom nailed a trey at the quarter horn.
In the fourth frame, the Cougars got no closer than nine. That margin was provided when Ivory Horne drilled a 3-pointer at the 7:12 mark to give his team a ray of hope. Horne had 11 for the Cougars.
Post said he thought the level of physical play wasn't an excuse. "I've said it plenty of times this year, our guys have to learn to adjust to the officials, not them to us."
Dunn came through for the Cats (25-7) with 11 points, while Ruffin and Windom added 11 and 10, respectively.
Afterward Davis, who led the Cats with 21, said his team's demeanor was simply a matter of turning it up a notch in the playoffs.
Winfield tallied eight points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Windom and Quadrick Griffin pulled down six each. As a team, MHS outboarded the Cougars 34-19.
Wayne County 70, Brandon 39: Geary Jackson's squad had no trouble with the Bulldogs in the latter two and a half quarters. But to hear Jackson tell it, his 13th-ranked War Eagles have a long way to go to be competitive on Friday.
Most of the second half rebounds went the Bulldogs (3-26) way but they didn't show the ability to hit a high percentage shot. Bulldog center Richard Burch scored 15 and Jerious Norwood added seven.
For the top-seeded hosts, Quentin Mayfield continued his hot shooting by nailing four of the team's eight 3s en route to a game-high 19 points.
John Gray and Dietric Slater scored 15 points each, while Rayford Everett chipped in with 12. Each team was proficient from the foul line as WCHS hit 10-of-14, while the Bulldogs drained 8-of-10. The girls' title tilt tips Friday at 6 p.m., while the boys get underway at 7:30 p.m.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rdark@themeridianstar.com.

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