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Wayne County sweeps Meridian Wildcats

By By Jeff Byrd/The Meridian Star
Dec. 1, 2001
WAYNESBORO In two remarkably similar games, Wayne County used key runs in the third quarter to build substantial leads only to see Meridian make a strong closing run. But in each case, both the War Eagles and Lady War Eagles came out with identical 58-51 victories on Friday night.
Wayne County Boys 58
Meridian 51
Following a nip and tuck first half, Wayne County began the second half making the key shot from the perimeter. That spelled bad news for Coach Ernie Watson's Wildcats.
Two, three-pointers by Steven Ford and one from Kacey Wilson turned a three-point War Eagle halftime lead into a 18-8 third quarter that put Wayne County up 44-31.
The lead continued to grow in the fourth quarter reaching 19 points at 54-35. Meridian finally made a late charge in the final three minutes eventually cutting the spread to seven at 55-48 with 43.8 seconds left.
Two free throws by Wilson with 32 seconds left essentially stopped the Wildcat flurry and Wayne went on to post the 58-51 victory.
Ford and Gray in fact, combined for 15 of the War Eagles' 18 points in the decisive third quarter.
Wayne County, now 5-0 on the season, would place four in double figures led by Wilson's 16. Dietric Slater had 15 followed by Ford with 13 and Gray had 10.
Meridian, who suffered its second straight road loss to fall to 5-3, struggled to match Wayne on the offensive end in the second half .
Josh Walker was able to hit for eight points in helping the Wildcats cut the 19-point deficit down to seven. Fred Cole led Meridian with 10 points, all of which came in the first half. Theo Naylor chipped in seven.
The War Eagles led 16-14 after one quarter. Both teams played tough defense in the second quarter with Meridian playing man and Wayne County in a tough 2-3 match-up. The game was tied for the final time at 21-21 before Wayne went up 26-23 at the break.
Wayne County Girls 58
Meridian Girls 51
Wayne County's Lady War Eagles snapped an 8-8 mdiway through first quarter with a 10-point run. Meridian would have to chase for the rest of the game.
The Lady War Eagles eventually built the lead to 18 points at 49-31 after three quarters. Meridian began a late comeback getting the margin down to six at 51-45 but could not come any closer.
Valencia Hariston, a 6-1 junior post. scored nine of her game high 24 points in the fourth quarter. Latisha Jones added a pair of baskets in the Lady Wildcat comeback and finished with 12 points.
Wayne County, now 8-1, got 11 points from Natalie Jordan and 10 from Kandis Bartee.
Bartee scored eight of her points in the second quarter to extend Wayne's lead to 32-19 at halftime.. Jordan got two baskets in the third to make it 49-31 at the end of three.
Meridian got it down to eight on a pair of occassions and then cut it to six at 51-45 following two free throws from Megan Mendiola, A driving layup by Tyleshia Arrington with 30 seconds to play stopped the Lady Wildcat momentum.