Evans-to-Lewis lifts Lady Rockets past Noxubee County
Feb. 18, 2001
By Rocky Higginbotham
The Meridian Star
SCOOBA Tausha Evans turned the girls' championship of the Division 2-4A Tournament into her own little showcase Saturday night at East Mississippi Community College.
But with the game on the line and everyone inside EMCC's Keyes T. Currie Gymnasium expecting Evans to take the final shot for Neshoba Central, she did just the opposite.
Evans drove the baseline and dished to a wide-open Bonnie Lewis in the paint, and Lewis laid in the game-winning shot at the buzzer to lift the Lady Rockets to a stunning 64-62 win over ninth-ranked Noxubee County.
The win lifts Neshoba to 25-9 on the season, and avenged a blowout loss to Noxubee in Macon earlier this season. It also gives the Lady Rockets a first-round, Class 4A playoff game at home Monday night at 7 p.m., as Neshoba hosts the Division 3-4A runnerup.
Noxubee will also be in the playoffs, but the 27-5 Tigerettes must now travel to the Division 3-4A champion Monday night at 7.
Neshoba actually led Saturday night's contest for 30 of the game's 32 minutes. But Noxubee County erased a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 62-62 on a 3-pointer by senior forward Tiffany Murray with 21 seconds left.
Head coach Bill Smith called a timeout with Neshoba in possession and 10.2 seconds remaining.
Neshoba started the game on an 11-3 run, getting a pair of 3-pointers from Evans and forcing legendary Noxubee County head coach Narvel Colemon into a timeout. The Lady Rockets were up 19-12 after one quarter and 29-22 at halftime.
Neshoba stretched that lead to 14 early in the second half, and were up 11 going into the final period before Noxubee rallied.
Junior guard Shawnequa Rucker heated up for the Tigerettes to lead the comeback. Rucker, both times with a toe on the 3-point line, nailed a pair of 18-foot jumpers to help pull the Tigerettes within 58-56 with 1:23 left.
In fact, Noxubee may have completed its improbable comeback had it not been for Evans' free-throw shooting. The 5-foot-2 senior guard hit 5-of-6 during a 27-second stretch to keep Noxubee at bay.
Evans' free throw with 30.2 ticks showing made it a 62-59 game before Murray's clutch 3, and before the Evans-to-Lewis connection that set off a wild celebration at midcourt by Smith, the Lady Rockets and their fans.
Evans finished with a game-high 33 points, and she also had 11 rebounds, seven steals and five assists. Miranda Rosar added 16 points and eight rebounds.
Neshoba moved the ball well, picking up seven assists from Elyse Willis and five from Krystal Wells, while Lewis finished with six points.
Noxubee got 20 from Rucker and 15 points, seven assists and six steals from Chaffie Spann, who fouled out with 56 seconds left.
Erlexis Cooper, the team's leading scorer who was held without a point in the fist half, finished with seven points and 12 rebounds. Jessica Mason added seven points, six rebounds and five steals, Murray had six points and six rebounds and Jennifer Porter had six boards and three steals.
The contest, which was originally scheduled for Friday night at New Hope High School, was postponed and eventually moved to Saturday at EMCC after severe weather caused power outages and other problems in the Columbus area.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at email@example.com.