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Crystal Springs dampens Lady Rockets' fuse

By Staff
END OF THE ROAD n Neshoba Central's Tausha Evans races between Crystal Springs defenders Tuesday night. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
March 7, 2001
JACKSON n If Tuesday night's Class 4A state semifinal was an exam, the Lady Tigers of Crystal Springs were writing the answers before Neshoba Central even asked the questions.
All game long, the Lady Tigers had an answer for whatever the Lady Rockets threw at them.
Crystal Springs never trailed in taking a 65-58 win. Neshoba Central finished its season with a 28-11 record, while Crystal Springs advances to Saturday afternoon's 4A state championship game against the winner of today's contest between Noxubee County and Raymond.
Neshoba's 1-2 scoring punch of Tausha Evans and Miranda Rosar were outscored by Crystal Springs counterparts Stacey Lee, a 5-foot-9 junior, and Shawana Coleman, a 5-foot-4 senior, 33-31.
Then you factor in Crystal Springs' 5-foot-9 junior Ebony Jenkins who scored 16 points.
Crystal Springs, 27-10, led 8-2 less than three minutes into the contest and owned the backboards in building an 18-7 advantage by the end of the first quarter.
The Lady Tigers, who are coached by Crystal Springs mayor Hugh Webb, led by as many as 14 points in the first half when Lee made a pair of free throws with 3:16 to go before intermission to put her team up 28-14.
Neshoba trailed 32-21 at the end of the first half in which Crystal Springs absolutely dominated the backboards.
Crystal Springs then scored the first six points of the third quarter to go up 38-21.
Neshoba pulled to within 44-31 with just under three minutes remaining in the third quarter. Another basket by Evans made it 46-35 with 1:26 left in the third period.
With 46 seconds left in the third period, Evans lost control of the ball going up for a layup and crumpled hard to the floor where she remained with an injury to her left knee. Trainers picked her up and carried her to the dressing room.
Crystal Springs led 48-35 to start the fourth quarter.
A basket by Elyse Willis got Neshoba to within 52-40 with 6:02 to play and Evans re-entered the game during a timeout.
A backdoor layup by Rosar and a 3-pointer from Krystal Wells closed Neshoba's deficit to 54-47 with 4:18 left.
A three-point play by Evans off her own steal and layup cut Crystal Springs' lead to 56-50 with 2:42 on the clock.
Crystal Springs upped its lead to 59-50 at the free-throw line, but 3s from Evans and Willis had Neshoba still in striking range at 62-56 with 30 seconds to go.
A free throw by Antreneka Herbert with 22.2 seconds left effectively sealed the win.
Evans led Neshoba with a game-high 20 points despite spraining her right wrist in the first half to go with the second half knee injury. Rosar scored 11 points. Willis and Wells both had nine, while Bonnie Lewis added six. Neshoba was 7-of-16 at the free-throw line.
The Lady Rockets had won nine of their last 10 games prior to Tuesday's game.
Beating Meridian and Columbus in back-to-back games in late January was the spark that lit the Lady Rockets' fuse for a successful postseason run.
Lee made 9-of-10 free throws in leading the Lady Tigers with 19 points. Jenkins scored 16, Coleman had 14, and Herbert added nine. The Lady Tigers made 15-of-21 free throws.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at mstamper@themeridianstar.com.

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