West, Newton reach ECCC finals
Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
LOOSE BALL Newton County's Al Willis knocks the ball away from Neshoba's Tawon Walton in an attempt to come from behind during the last minutes of the game.
By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
December 1. 2001
DECATUR – West Lauderdale and Newton used semifinal wins to advance to tonight's girls' championship at 7 p.m. in the East Central Community College Central Mississippi Classic.
West Lauderdale defeated Neshoba Central 59-56, while Newton beat top-seeded Lake 61-41 in Friday's semifinals in the winners' bracket.
West, 8-1, and Newton, 4-0, met for the gold medal in the 2001 State Games this past summer with the Lady Knights taking that contest.
There will be no third-place game as it was canceled by mutual consent. The losers' bracket championship is set for 2:30 p.m. between Carthage and Philadelphia, 4-5.
West Lauderdale 59
Neshoba Central 56
Defending tournament champion West Lauderdale outscored Neshoba 13-10 in the fourth quarter to advance to the championship game.
The teams were tied at 32-32 at halftime and after four lead changes and two ties in the third quarter were even at 46-46 entering the final period.
Baskets from Kristina Gardner and J.J. Huggins in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter gave the Lady Knights a 50-46 lead and Neshoba played chase the rest of the game.
The Lady Rockets closed to within 57-56 with 3.6 seconds left when Krystal Wells banked home a 3-pointer.
West's Patty Monroe missed the front end of a one-and-one with two seconds remaining, but JaWanda Huggins got the rebound and stuck it back in for the final three-point margin.
J.J. Huggins led West with 17 points. Cierra Jennings scored 10, JaWanda Huggins had nine, Gardner scored eight, and Monroe added six.
Wells led Neshoba, 8-3, with 18 points after hitting five 3-pointers. Miranda Rosar added 10 points. India Backstrom scored nine, Elyse Willis eight, and Kandice Thomas six.
The Lady Rockets hit eight 3s with West connecting on five.
Newton carried a 32-18 lead into halftime after outscoring the defending Class 1A state champions 16-4 in the second quarter.
Tonya Jordan led Newton in the first half with 10 points. Lenora Gray had seven with Twyla Clayton adding six.
Kim Cox had nine points for the Lady Hornets after hitting three 3-pointers.
Lake got to within 34-27 with 4:48 left in the third quarter on a basket from Kimyatta Viverette, but Newton scored eight of the next 12 points to go up 42-31.
Gray led Newton with 19 points, making 9-of-16 free throws. Jordan added 13 points, Clayton scored 11, and Creoshia Williams tossed in seven.
Cox led Lake, 2-2, with 18 points after hitting five 3-pointers. Viverette scored 10 points.
Nanih Waiya 50
Shekara Young scored 21 points to lead Philadelphia, 4-5, to the losers' bracket game win.
Philadelphia also got 15 points from Erica Clemons and 10 from Dominetrix Hunter.
Ashley Pugh led Nanih Waiya, 4-2, with 22 points. Heather Steele scored 11 and Courtnee Graham added nine.
Amanda Cook scored 18 points, Ashley Luckett had 17, and Estrelita Harvey added 10 as Carthage took the losers' bracket game victory.
Morton, 2-6, got 16 points from Jessica Sparkman, 14 from Makeba Evans, and 10 from Dominique Brooks.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 693-1551, ext. 3235.