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Staying alive …

By Staff
UP IN THE AIR n Gulfport's Lakesha Ross (back) goes airborne as she defends against Meridian's Erica Cross Monday night during the Lady Wildcats' Class 5A South State playoff win.
Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
Feb. 20, 2001
It took a total team effort in the fourth quarter, but the Meridian High Lady Wildcats stayed alive in the Class 5A South State playoffs by holding off a pesky Gulfport Lady Admiral squad at home, 67-57.
An early turnaround jumper by Kanecia Williams, who finished with 11 points, four steals and 13 of her team's 41 rebounds, gave the Lady Cats the early 10-2 lead, but Gulfport wouldn't stay down for long.
Point guard Lakesha Ross led the Lady Admirals back by scoring a pair of 3-pointers for six of her 13, including one at the first quarter horn to get Gulfport (20-11) to within 25-19 with 5:35 remaining in the first half.
But it was then that Gulfport proceeded to send the Lady Cats to the free throw line, fueling an 11-3 run to give MHS a 14-point lead at the break.
Gulfport inched within 41-34 on a putback by Andrea Jenkins at the 3:13 mark of the third, but an 11-2 spurt, led by five of Cantea Brown's 24 points, put MHS back up by 14.
Brown's two free throws at the 4:38 mark pushed the lead to 15, before the Lady Admirals made one last gasp, trimming it back to 10 in a couple of minutes. But in the process, Gulfport's two inside forces in Shamayla Walker and Andrea Jenkins fouled out.
The two accounted for 14 points and 11 of the visitors' 26 rebounds, but more importantly, with them out, the lane was freed up and MHS was ultimately able to take advantage inside.
The waning minutes saw Meridian, who will host the South State Tournament this Friday and Saturday, run off enough clock and sink enough free throws to advance.
But Lady Admiral head coach Walter Walker seemed to think the game hinged on who wasn't on the court, rather than who was.
Chelse Alford had 14 points and seven rebounds, while Brown also tallied four of Meridian's 14 steals.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at