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Oak Grove takes girls' title

By Staff
Rocky Higginbotham/staff writer
Jan. 13, 2002
DEKALB Southeast Lauderdale's girls have dominated the Sam Dale Tournament for quite some time.
But in the Lady Tigers' first appearance in the event in the "Post-Monique Horner" era, Southeast came up just short of claiming a seventh Sam Dale title for coach Joe Miller.
And ironically, the loss came against a newcomer to the Sam Dale atmosphere.
In a contest that saw 10 lead changes, Oak Grove got a one-handed runner in the lane from Melanie McDonald with three seconds remaining to knock off Southeast 66-64 and claim the championship Saturday night at Kemper County.
Oak Grove was making its first-ever appearance in the Sam Dale tourney which in recent years had drawn back to a four-team, round-robin event. But Quitman rejoined old conference foes Southeast, Northeast, Kemper and Enterprise this season, and tournament organizers had to seek another team to even the 2002 field.
Enter the Lady Warriors, who certainly got their money's worth out of the two-hour-plus drive to DeKalb this weekend. Oak Grove wasted a 25-point lead before beating host Kemper in overtime Friday night, and in Saturday's championship, won a contest that wasn't decided until the final buzzer sounded.
The Lady Warriors got a pair of 3-pointers from McDonald early to gain a five-point edge, but Southeast answered with a 9-2 run to end the first quarter and go up 17-15.
The Lady Tigers stretched their lead to as many as five before settling for a 35-32 halftime lead, and the seesawing continued in the second half.
Six-footer Kim Winfrey scored seven straight points to put Oak Grove back on top in the third quarter, only to see Southeast answer with 3s from Ree Newell and Sam Smith to put the Lady Tigers up 48-47 heading into the fourth.
There, after Southeast had gone back up by five, Oak Grove got putbacks from Winfrey and Ashley Weathers during a 12-1 run that gave the Lady Warriors a 59-53 lead with 3:15 remaining.
Smith's putback of her own miss with 54 seconds left pulled Southeast within 61-59, and the Lady Tigers tied it at 64-64 on a driving basket from Lesley Ruffin.
A jump ball went in Oak Grove's favor with 11 seconds left, and McDonald answered with the game-winner.
Southeast called a final timeout and inbounded the ball with nine-tenths of a second remaining, but a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer failed.
Winfrey finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Class 5A Lady Warriors, who moved to 13-5 on the season. McDonald scored 16 points and had three assists, Lashanbura McInnis had 10 points, Weathers scored eight, Tabitha Foreman had seven boards, Katrina Evans scored six and Latisha Leggett had three assists and three steals.
Ruffin led Southeast with 22 points, while Smith scored 15 and Newell 14.
Kenitta Cooley had a game-high 16 rebounds to go with seven points, while Smith handed out five assists and Newell had seven boards.
Southeast returns to action Tuesday with a Division 5-3A game at Choctaw Central.

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