Choctaw girls take thriller over Horner, Southeast
Feb. 16, 2001
By Rocky Higginbotham
The Meridian Star
No other word describes Friday night's Division 5-3A Tournament championship game, which was played in front of an overflowing crowd at Southeast Lauderdale.
The host Lady Tigers, despite 56 points from Monique Horner, were outscored 109-99 by top-seeded and 10th-ranked Choctaw Central Lady Warriors in a classic not soon to be forgotten.
Choctaw Central led nearly the entire contest, but didn't score in the final 2:52 of regulation as Southeast erased a double-digit lead and forced overtime.
Choctaw got 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range by Shavon Willis as the Lady Warriors opened up a 17-point lead in the second half.
Southeast was still down by 10 with 2:52 left after two free throws by Crystal Lewis. But the Lady Warriors missed their next five free throw attempts, and Southeast took advantage.
The Lady Tigers used a 3-pointer from Lesley Ruffin to cut it to 93-90 with 1:40 left, and got a single free throw from Kenitta Cooley with 26 seconds remaining.
Choctaw Central missed two freebies with 14 seconds on the clock, and Horner got the rebound and took it the length of the floor for the game-tying basket with nine seconds left. The Lady Warriors also blew a layup at the buzzer, but Choctaw had no problems scoring in overtime.
Horner scored off the opening tip, but Choctaw scored the next six points of the extra period and never trailed again.
Horner also had a game-high 19 rebounds to go with her 56 points. Lesley Ruffin had 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, Cooley had 12 points and 14 rebounds, Ebony Moore had six points and 14 rebounds and Sam Smith also scored six points as the Lady Tigers fell to 27-8.
Lewis, the Tournament MVP, scored 31 points, had 10 assists and six steals for Choctaw Central, which improved to 28-3. Chantay Frazier had 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, Willis scored 22 points and had six rebounds, Melinda Ben had 12 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and four steals and Deaundrea Johnson and Trish Phillips both had eight points and eight rebounds.
Choctaw Central hosts Poplarville Monday in a first-round Class 3A state playoff game at 7 p.m., while Southeast Lauderdale goes to Purvis.
Purvis beat Poplarville 71-70 in triple overtime in Friday night's Division 8-3A championship game.
All-Tournament team: Tournament MVP Lewis headed up the All-Tournament team, which also included Ben, Johnson, Willis and Frazier from Choctaw Central and Horner, Ruffin and Cooley from Southeast. Also making the squad were Tamekia Foley and Kristin Chaney of Newton County, Katunia Levy and Letyshea Murry of Velma Jackson, Julie McCrory of West Lauderdale, Monique Mosley of Kemper County and Amanda Cooks of Carthage.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at email@example.com.