Meridian area girls advance in State Games

By By Fredie Carmichael/The Meridian Star
June 22, 2001
All three Meridian-area teams claimed opening round State Games victories on Thursday. West Lauderdale downed Warren Central at Meridian Community College's Ivy Sports Center, while MHS and Northeast got wins at Meridian High School.
West Lauderdale 45, Warren Central 40: As the lightning popped outside MCC's Ivy Sports Center on Thursday, the Huggins sisters J.J. and Jawanda exploded inside. The sisters combined for 27 points, leading the Lady Knights to a 45-40 conquest of Warren Central. West Lauderdale was able to get the win despite a big game from Warren Central's Jaquita Benard. Benard scored a team-high 16 points and kept her team in the game.
"I talked to some people last night who told me that (Warren Central) had a good inside player, and they were right," WLHS head coach Jody Hurst said of Benard. "I thought we could try to press them and maybe get her tired but she did a good job of getting the ball in the post and scoring."
After a back and forth first six minutes of play, the Lady Knights hit a spurt, going on a 14-2 run to end the half. With the game tied at 10-10, J.J. Huggins drove baseline and laid it in to put her Lady Knights up 12-10 with 6:58 left in the half.
Jawanda put WLHS up 22-10 with a three-point play when she popped a jumper in the lane, was fouled and made the free-throw. J.J. ended the half with a nifty behind the back move losing the defender, and kissed a floater off the glass to send the Lady Knights into the locker room with a 24-12 halftime lead.
Benard went to work in the second half, scoring 10 of her 16 points. Warren Central was able to cut it to 43-40 with 1:23 left in the game when Benard hit a turnaround jump-shot in the lane.
Patricia Monroe hit two crucial free throws with :21 left and WLHS walked away with the victory.
"I quit pressing after we got up by 12 because I was worried about us getting tired," Hurst said. "I guess in retrospect we should have kept putting on the pressure. They started hitting their shots and we went cold."
J.J. led the way for WLHS with a game-high 17, while Jawanda added 10.
West Lauderdale squares off against cross county rival Southeast at 10:45 a.m. today at MCC.
In other girls action Meridian High's girls held off Quitman 47-43 at Meridian High School. The Lady Wildcats are set to play Northeast at 2:30 p.m. today. The Lady Trojans got a come-from-behind win over Yazoo County, 34-32, thanks to a last second jumper by Crystal Hopson.
Laurel defeated Walnut, 53-26 in the other girls game at MCC.

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