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Meridian sweeps Newton County

By Staff
LOOSE BALL Newton County's Yolanda Johnson, left, MHS's Valencia Hairston, Latishea Jones and Newton County's Kristin Headrick scramble for a loose ball. Photo by Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Jeff Byrd/The Meridian Star
Dec. 9, 2001
Home for the first time in over a month, the Meridian Wildcats and Lady Cats reacquainted themselves with the home fans by sweeping Newton County here at the Meridian Gym on Saturday night.
Meridian Girls 57
Newton County 44
It was tale of two distinct halves here in the girls game. Meridian took out its fury from Friday night's 30-point loss to Tupelo in a rematch of last March's Class 5A Final, by ripping and roaring through the Lady Cougars.
Meridian, now 6-4, scored the game's first 14 points and led 22-3 near the end of the first quarter. It was 42-10 at the half.
Newton County regrouped and made a game of it in the second half.
Meridian Head Coach Donald Shirley said his team became too complacent after surging out to the 32-point advantage.
Newton County Coach Natalie Vance was glad to see her team show a pulse in the second half.
Stephanie Mosley and Valencia Hairston each scored nine points in the opening quarter to hand Meridian a 22-6 first quarter lead. Megan Mendiola then got going in the second quarter scoring all nine of her points in the period as the Lady Wildcats built a 42-10 halftime cushion.
The Lady Cougars, 8-3, bounced back in the second half scoring the first nine points in the third quarter. Phyllis Cole scored eight of her 14 points in the quarter while Yolanda Johnson added seven as the margin shrank to 17 at 46-29 by quarter's end.
After being benched and fussed out for the final five minutes of the third quarter, the Meridian starters re-entered. They quickly boosted the lead back to 20.
But Newton County answered with consecutive threes, the latter by Kristen Chaney to make it 51-37. Meridian went back up between 16-to-18 points and maintained it until Chaney hit another three at the end to make for the 13-point final.
Hairston finished with 19 points. Mosley had 18 and Mendiola chipped in nine.
Cole led Newton County with 14. Johnson had 13 and Chaney chipped in 10.
Meridian Boys 76
Newton County 56
Fresh off a 15-point road win at division rival Tupelo on Friday, the Meridian Wildcats were in a good mood for Saturday's homecoming. They broke out to a 22-3 lead in the first quarter and went on to post the 20-point victory.
The win moves the Wildcats to 7-3 on the season. Newton County falls to 5-3.
Last night we played hard and some good things happened for us in Tupelo. Tonight, it kinduva carried over," said Meridian Head Coach Ernie Watson.
Newton County Coach Johnny Slaughter felt his team would have a difficult time with Meridian.
The Cougars were also hurt by the first-quarter benching of 6-foot-7 center Tony Smith.
When Smith did play, he did well leading the Cougars with 16 points. But the Cougars had no answer from a multiple Meridian attack which saw eight different players score at least five points.
Reserve forward Ricky McMillan led the Wildcats with 12 points. Mark Walker and Keno Leflore each chipped in 10. Tony Dunn had eight, as did Josh Walker. Jamaine Winfield added six.
Newton County had a seven-point run to get the spread to 15 at 33-18 but that would be the closest they could come.
Al Willis had 12 and Ricardo Alcanter added 10 for the Cougars.
Meridian returns to action on Thursday with the Frazier-Yarborough Tournament.