MHS boys get it done against Wayne County
Feb. 17, 2001
By Richard Dark
The Meridian Star
WAYNESBORO Everyone's heard of the old adage, "The third time's the charm," only in the case of the Meridian High Wildcats, it took just a tad longer.
Ernie Watson's club used grittiness and tenacity to overcome a hostile environment and a talented opponent as the Wildcats finally succeeded in securing a win over the Wayne County War Eagles, 70-66, in the finals of the Division 5-5A Tournament.
With the win, the Cats (25-7) will host the Harrison Central Red Rebels on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Wayne County (25-3) will hit the road to face the Division 8-5A champ, Hattiesburg.
The end of the game was marred by a huge contingent of Wayne County fans who headed for the exits with 19 ticks remaining.
At that point, MHS was only up 68-64. Quadrick Griffin, who led a balanced Cat attack with 14 points, had just been fouled to stop the clock.
Before Griffin could attempt any free throws, however, the officials had to clear the floor while the patrons cleared out. Griffin missed the first, but made the second, and with 11 seconds showing, Aaron McClendon hit a running layup to pull WCHS to within 69-66.
Griffin then sank 1-of-2 for the final margin and as the horn sounded, the Cats celebrated wildly at midcourt.
Senior post player Jeremy Ruffin, who had 12 points on several authoritative dunks and six boards, said it was simply a matter of staying tough on defense.
For Wayne County, it was Dietric Slater, who ripped away at the Cats all night he tallied 19 points, including eight quick points in the opening frame as the War Eagles whittled out a narrow 14-11 lead.
But Griffin was clutch in the ensuing period, nailing all three of his treys in a brief stretch that helped the visitors build a small four-point lead at intermission.
The lead got to nine before Quentin Mayfield (12 points) sank a pair of technical freebies. The War Eagles slowly pieced together a 16-7 spurt to get back into it, taking a brief 48-47 lead on a pair of foul shots by John Gray at the 19-second mark of the third.
Gray was in a group of four Eagles with a half dozen, including Robert Jordan, Kacey Wilson and Rayford Everett.
Jamaine Winfield added 10 for MHS.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.