First trip to Big House' good one for Jackets
CAN'T STOP THIS Calhoun City's Lafarus Sykes (21) couldn't stop Union's Anthony Johnson (30) from flying to the goal in Union's first-round win on Monday. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Marty Stamper/EMG sports assistant
Feb. 26, 2002
JACKSON Many a basketball team has taken leave of its senses in its first trip to the Mississippi Coliseum, but don't put the Union Yellowjackets in that group.
Making their first trip to the state tournament since 1971 and their first-ever appearance in The Big House,' the Jackets placed five players in double figures as they stung Calhoun City 75-63 in the first round of the Class 1A State Tournament Monday night.
Union, 21-12, will return to The Big House' Saturday when the Jackets take on Class 1A North State champion Ingomar, 34-2, at 2:30 p.m.
If the Jackets had any early jitters Monday, they didn't show as they erased all memories of a slow start to the season which saw them lose four of their first six games, including a 70-17 beating by Philadelphia in the season opener and a 68-61 loss to Nanih Waiya in their second outing.
Union went on a 7-0 run midway through the first quarter to grab a 14-7 lead and held a 20-14 advantage by the end of the opening period.
The Jackets never trailed by more than a point in the first half or by more than two points in the second half.
Calhoun City scored the first six points of the second period to pull even at 20-20. The teams were tied again at 22-22, 28-28, and 32-32 before Union took a 34-32 lead into halftime, thanks to a basket by 6-foot senior Douglas Wansley with 7.2 seconds left in the first half.
A key play in the first half came 1:29 before intermission when Calhoun City's 6-foot-4 Jeffrey Petty picked up his third foul. He finished with only two points.
Prentiss Evans, who scored Union's first seven points, had 11 at the break. Derrick Harris, a 6-foot-1 junior, had 10 and Anthony Johnson, a 6-foot-1 freshman, had eight.
Antonio Campbell had 10 first half points for the Wildcats, who finished their year 22-12.
The teams were deadlocked four times early in the third period before baskets by Harris and Evans, a 5-foot-10 senior, put Union up for good at 44-40.
A 6-0 run, highlighted by back-to-back baskets by 6-foot-3 senior Quincy Larkin, gave the Jackets a 50-42 lead with 1:05 remaining in the third period.
Union held a 52-45 advantage to start the final period.
Wansley and Johnson both made two free throws in the first 37 seconds of the fourth quarter to extend Union's lead to 56-45.
Union led by as many as 15 points on two occasions in the final period before the Wildcats put together one final charge at the four-minute mark. A 7-0 run cut Union's lead to 64-56 with Robert Fox getting five of the points.
Calhoun City cut its deficit down to 67-61 with 1:46 still remaining on a basket by Campbell.
But that's where the comeback bid ended.
Harris knocked down a pair of free throws and Johnson added a basket as the Jackets built their lead back to 71-61 with 1:19 to go.
Harris led Union with 20 points. Johnson scored 16, Evans and Wansley both had 13, and Larkin had 10.
Larkin got all 10 of his points in the second half.
The Jackets were 17-of-27 at the free-throw line. Calhoun City was 7-of-17. Neither team hit a 3-point basket.
Fox led Calhoun City with 22 points. Campbell had 15 and Lafarus Sykes scored 10.