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Horner leads Lady Tigers to 3A title

By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
March 10, 2001
JACKSON Joe Miller and the Southeast Lauderdale Lady Tigers can rest, the Class 3A State Championship is now theirs.
Southeast Lauderdale capped what can only be described as a magical run with an amazing 81-77 win over the South Pontotoc Lady Cougars Friday at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Monique Horner, the state's all-time leading scorer, poured in 43 points to tie the single-game Coliseum scoring record with LaToya Thomas.
For pundits who viewed the Lady Tigers as a one-man show with Horner, the supporting cast had plenty to say in the title tilt.
Kenitta Cooley stepped up in a big way with 18 points and 16 rebounds to go with two assists, two steals and three blocks.
Her presence was especially key whenever teammates would miss because Cooley always seemed to be there at the right time to put the ball back up and in.
With eight points in the first quarter, she did as much to set the tone for the Lady Tigers as anyone else.
Horner scored the last three in the frame to give SEL a 19-14 lead.
But South Pontotoc (35-4) came storming back with a quick six to pull to within 21-20 at the 6:05 mark of the first half.
But as would be the case the entire night, Horner came right back at the Lady Cougar defense. She scored two more buckets in rapid-fire succession as both teams went back and forth the rest of the half.
Horner went out of the game briefly in the second quarter with a turned ankle. The clock only lost 12 seconds while she was on the bench, but a pair of timeouts allowed her to rest longer.
Southeast (32-8) did manage a six-point lead on a three-point play by Ebony Moore with 33.2 seconds to go, but Lady Cougar guard Emily Waldrop drained one from downtown to provide the 40-37 halftime margin.
Waldrop paced the Lady Cougars with 21 points and five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
A big key to the Lady Cougar defensive attack was tenacious pressure on the inbounds pass. Southeast flunked the test of getting it in numerous times, allowing the Lady Cougars to reel off quick scores.
One of those steals led to back-to-back scores from Waldrup giving the Lady Cougars their first lead (55-54) since the 34-31 edge with 1:47 to go in the first half.
But Horner hit an unbelievable one-handed runner to knot it again at 56 with 1:15 to go in the fourth. Moore hauled in a nifty pass underneath to give SEL its final lead with 20 ticks left in the third.
To their credit, the Lady Cougars didn't go away either.
The triple that gave Horner a tally of 40 also gave SEL a 65-60 lead with 5:40 to go. Buckets by April Reeder and Rachel Fields tied the game again less than a minute later.
The Lady Tiger defense clamped down, and Moore and Cooley reeled off six straight to give SEL what looked like an insurmountable lead. Horner's free throw at the 2:56 mark gave her 41 for the game and more importantly, gave the team a 72-65 lead.
Waldrop spotted up for a 3-pointer the next time down, but Horner laid an emphatic block on her electrifying the Tiger contingent.
Waldrop did manage to hit a trifecta at the 1:49 mark.
The next time she dialed long distance was with 17.5 ticks left, inching the Lady Cougars to within 78-75.
But at that point, it was strictly academic as Horner stepped to the line and hit both freebies, tying the record and icing the game before the wild celebration at midcourt ensued.
April Reeder added 18 points and 11 boards for the Lady Cougars, while Moore had 11 points, 12 boards and a block.
SEL outrebounded South Pontotoc 53-46.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rdark@themeridianstar.com.

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