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Wildcats eliminate West, face Velma Jackson in finals

By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Feb. 16, 2001
There will a blue and gold theme in tonight's Division 5-3A Tournament championship game.
Chances are, it'll be a pretty good basketball game, too.
Third-seeded Kemper County and No. 1 Velma Jackson, who split during the regular season, will tangle tonight at 7:15 p.m. for the title after both pulled away for victories in Thursday night's semifinals.
Kemper overcame a 12-point deficit in the second half to top second-seeded West Lauderdale 71-58, while Velma held off a late charge from Newton County for a 74-62 win.
Kemper County 71, West Lauderdale 58: Kemper and big man Kenny Boyd dominated West in their first two meetings this season. But last week at Collinsville, the red-hot Knights held Boyd in check and forced Kemper into 29 turnovers as they routed the Wildcats in a 68-48 decision.
Thursday night in the go-game of the division tourney at Southeast Lauderdale, however, Kemper rode a big second-half performance by Boyd and turned the ball over just 13 times in the win.
Kemper actually started hot, jumping to a 24-19 lead after one quarter. But West rode the hot hand of sophomore sensation Calvin Moore who had 20 points in the first half to go up 39-35 at halftime.
The Knights (17-16) continued their hot streak in the second half, going on a 10-2 run and taking a 49-37 lead.
Jackson called two timeouts during that spurt, and the second must have gotten the attention of his team. The Wildcats scored the next 12 points, six of them from Kenny Boyd, to tie things at 49.
Kemper County was up 54-50 by the end of the third quarter and quickly went back to Boyd down low. West did get within one, but Kemper finished the game on a 17-5 run to put the Knights away.
Kenny Boyd finished with 24 points 17 in the second half to go with 11 rebounds and three blocked shots, while Chris Davis scored 11 points and James Moore had 10 points, 11 assists and three steals to lead Kemper. Kendrick Gale added eight points and eight rebounds, Derrick Boyd had eight points and seven rebounds and Terrance Westerfield scored seven points and had three assists for Kemper which outrebounded West 37-25.
Moore finished with a game-high 28 points and also had three steals for West, while Boo Ramsey scored 10 points and had seven rebounds and four assists. Karlos Lewis pitched in nine points and had a team-best five assists.
Velma Jackson 74, Newton County 62: The top-seeded Falcons overcame a hot start by the Cougars and avoided an upset by holding off Newton County late.
Velma Jackson was down 22-18 after Newton County hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter. But the Falcons used a 9-0 run in the second quarter to take the lead, and carried a 38-31 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
Velma stretched that lead to as many as 14 early in the fourth quarter, only to see Newton County come storming back. The Cougars pulled within five at 62-57 on a 3-pointer by Del Merrell with 2:45 left, and were still within six a minute later before Velma finished on an 8-2 run.
Kenyon Ford led the Falcons with 23 points, while Deandre Jackson scored 20 and had three assists. Hervie Banks added 18 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and three steals and Revis Hamlin scored eight points and had nine rebounds and four steals.
Merrell led Newton County with 17 points, while Al Willis scored 15 and Tony Smith had 14 points and six boards. Justin Smith had eight points, seven assists and seven rebounds for the Cougars, who finished 17-12.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at