Wildcats will have to wait until next season
By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
Feb. 25, 2001
HATTIESBURG The Meridian Wildcats drive to get back to the Mississippi Coliseum was abruptly thwarted as the Biloxi Indians came out running and did so the entire game, stopping only to get to the free throw line.
The result was a sound 101-83 whipping in the elimination game of the Class 5A South State Tournament in front of a partisan Biloxi crowd at the W. H. Watkins Gym on the campus of Hattiesburg High School.
In a two-hour contest that saw 51 fouls whistled, the Indians (25-10) quickly seized the tempo just three minutes into the game.
It started quietly at first. But when Leroy Causey hit a layup for an 8-4 lead at the 5:01 mark of the first, it sparked a 16-4 BHS explosion in which every Indian basket except one, came on the heels of a BHS steal.
The much-heralded Mississippi State signee Chey Christie, who poured in 23 points, put an exclamation point on the 26-10 frame with a resounding steal and one-handed throwdown with four seconds left.
The Cats looked somewhat shocked, but seemed to shake it off with a quick 5-0 run to start the second frame. Little did they know the 11-point margin of 26-15 was as close as they would get the rest of the way.
In fact, it was at that point that Christie began his personal parade to the free throw line. He hit 13-of-17 foul shots for the game, including his initial stretch of 11-of-12 in the second quarter that accounted for his team's first six possessions of the frame. BHS got into the double bonus with four minutes to go in the half.
Meridian however, did not make it to the line at all until the 3:11 mark of the quarter, when the lead was back to 20 where it hovered for the majority of the night.
Despite having the comfortable lead, Biloxi head coach John Pugh was assessed a technical foul at the end of the first half, which served to draw the Cats (26-9) to within 15 at the break.
Christie picked up his fifth foul with just under six minutes to go in the contest and the Indians up by 22.
In his absence, however, Terrick Willoughby stepped up, finishing with a game high 26 points, including seven layups during that time, to put to bed any fleeting hopes of an MHS comeback.
Pugh may have had a point, as the unrelenting Indian stalking yielded 18 Cat turnovers, including 13 in the first half.
Quadrick Griffin, who had 10 points for the Cats, hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 14 with two minutes to go. But, Biloxi came back with six unanswered. It was a microcosm of the night, as every time MHS tried to get something going the Indians had an answer.
Mike Davis, Ricky McMillian and Jeremy Ruffin each had 11 points and Jason Windom led the Cats with 15, despite being saddled with foul trouble.
Jamaine Winfield chipped in with six. In all 13 Wildcats notched the scoring column.
Tim Jones dumped in 16 for BHS.
Jackson Jim Hill 80, Hattiesburg 77: The Tigers protected a slim one-point lead with back-to back steals in the closing seconds to claim the South State Championship.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.