Choctaw girls easily dispose of Poplarville

By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Feb. 20, 2001
PHILADELPHIA The Poplarville Lady Hornets brought a sparkling record, a quartet of six-footers and hopes of advancing in the MHSAA Class 3A girls' state basketball playoffs with them to the Pearl River Indian Reservation.
It's a safe bet, however, that the Lady Hornets had not seen the pressure, nor the atmosphere that welcomed them at Choctaw Central Monday night.
Choctaw heated up from behind the 3-point arc and blitzed Poplarville for 26 points in the third quarter on its way to an impressive 87-59 win over the Lady Hornets in front of a standing-room-only crowd.
The win lifted the Lady Warriors to 29-3 on the season and extended Choctaw Central's homecourt winning streak to 85 straight victories. It also assured the Lady Warriors of hosting this weekend's Class 3A South State "Final Four" Tournament. Choctaw takes on the Heidelberg/Hazlehurst winner Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Poplarville ended the season with a 27-5 record.
Poplarville's only lead came on a free throw 21 seconds into the contest. The Lady Hornets were tied with Choctaw Central on four occasions in the first quarter, but found themselves down 19-11 at the end of the first quarter.
A late barrage of 3-pointers in the second period two of them by Shavon Willis helped push Choctaw's lead to 35-25 at halftime.
Choctaw Central was just 1-of-7 from long range in the first period, but connected on 8-of-14 shots from 3-point range during the remainder of the game.
They started falling in the third quarter, when Ferne Denson and Crystal Lewis hit a pair of 3-pointers and Lewis got a basket off a steal and assist from Willis to stretch the lead to 51-35.
Poplarville stopped that run with a basket by Danica Wallace at the 2:02 mark, but Choctaw Central reeled off the next eight points. Trish Phillips' old-fashioned three-point play helped send the Lady Warriors into the final quarter with a 61-39 lead.
Denson nailed another 3-pointer early in the fourth, pushing the margin to 27 points and removing all doubt of the game's outcome.
Eighth-grader Chantay Frazier pumped in a game-high 24 points and grabbed six rebounds, and she also dished out five of Choctaw Central's 28 assists. Lewis finished with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Senior Melinda Ben had 10 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, three steals and three blocked shots. Willis scored nine points and had five assists, Deaundrea Johnson had eight points and eight rebounds, Denson had six points and three assists, Phillips had five points and Renita McMillan three assists. Matisha Isaac nailed the final of Choctaw Central's nine 3-pointers.
Kira Tillman led Poplarville with 16 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four steals. Nikki Smith scored 10 points and had six rebounds and three assists and Diana Wallace also scored 10.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rhigginbotham@themeridianstar.com.

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