Wildcats fall to Natchez
By By Marty Stamper/EMG sports assistant
Feb. 24, 2002
HORN LAKE Meridian was unable to overcome a poor start in losing the Class 5A North State championship game 71-67 to Natchez Saturday afternoon.
The Wildcats will face Hattiesburg in the Class 5A State Tournament Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson. Meridian beat the Tigers in overtime on Jan. 8 at Hattiesburg.
Natchez jumped on Meridian early in Saturday's contest, leading by as many as 16 points in the first quarter before ending the period with a 27-14 advantage. The Bulldogs scored 12 straight points in building a 14-2 lead.
Meridian used a 10-0 run to whittle its deficit down to 29-24 when Jamaine Winfield canned a 3-pointer with 4:20 to go in the first half.
Keno LeFlore hit a pair of free throws with 1:26 to go before intermission to cut Natchez' lead to 33-32. Bulldog 6-foot-5 Dandy Dozen forward VasShun Newborne picked up his third foul on the play.
The Wildcats were unable to take advantage as Natchez ended the half with a 7-0 run for a 40-32 halftime lead.
The closing seconds of the half didn't help the Wildcats as Brian Williams buried a 3-pointer with three seconds remaining and the Bulldogs took advantage of a sloppy inbounds pass to get two more points before the half ended.
Fred Cole sparked a third period comeback by Meridian, 20-11, as he scored the first six points for the Cats in the second half.
A 3-pointer from Theo Naylor tied the contest at 43-43 and a trey from Jason Windom gave Meridian its first lead of the game at 46-45 with 3:18 to go in the third period. A layup by Quann Carlisle put the Cats up 48-45.
Ronald Calcote scored in the closing seconds of the third period to put the Bulldogs back up 52-50 and they would not trail in the final eight minutes.
Natchez eased out to a 62-55 advantage on a basket by Je'Kel Foster with just under four minutes to go before Meridian mounted one last charge.
A 7-0 run saw the Cats pull even at 62-62 on a 3-pointer from Matthew Gonzalez with 2:08 to play.
Natchez went up 64-62 on a basket by Newborne with 1:47 remaining and a steal and basket by Burton Broudy gave the Bulldogs a 66-62 lead with 1:28 to go.
After two free throws by LeFlore cut the gap to 66-64, a questionable intentional foul called on Gonzalez allowed Chris Logan to make one free throw with 14.4 seconds left and with ball possession, Foster hit two charity shots at the 11.5 second mark for a 69-64 lead.
A 3-pointer by LeFlore pulled Meridian back to within 69-67 with 6.6 seconds left, but Logan sealed the Bulldog victory with two free throws with 5.2 seconds left.
Meridian made 17 of its 24 free throw attempts, while Natchez was 11-of-17.
Meridian got 14 points from LeFlore, 12 each from Cole and Winfield, and eight apiece from Windom and Gonzalez.
Natchez, 29-4, got 14 points apiece from Foster and Newborne, 12 from Broudy, 11 from Logan, and nine each from Williams and Derek Jarvis.