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West falls, SEL wins

By By Rocky Higginbotham / special to The Star
Feb. 27, 2004
Just four teams remain in the Class 3A Girls South State Tournament here at Choctaw Central, and it's no major surprise two of them are from the local Division 5-3A league.
Rivals Southeast Lauderdale and Choctaw both turned in quarterfinal wins Thursday in front of an overflow crowd at The Scalping Grounds Thursday, while another 5-3A power West Lauderdale dropped a heartbreaker.
West had the toughest chore of the local squads in the quarters, falling 47-42 to an always-athletic Hazlehurst team. Southeast whipped Wilkinson County 89-60, while Choctaw knocked off Franklin County 66-63 and North Pike downed Columbia 50-34.
Southeast will battle North Pike today at 6 p.m. in the first of two semifinal matchups, followed by Hazlehurst and Choctaw at approximately 7:30.
The South State consolation and championship games are set for Saturday, with the top three finishers qualifying for the Class 3A Girls State Tournament that begins next week at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.
Hazlehurst 47
West Lauderdale 42
The Lady Knights scored the game's first five points and got back-to-back 3-pointers from Vankelia Wilson to end the first half on a strong note with a 20-10 advantage.
But Hazlehurst scored the first seven points of the second half to force West coach Jody Hurst into a timeout, and the Lady Indians got their first lead of the contest with 1:28 left in the third quarter on an 18-foot jumper by Sheba Smith. The game was tied 42-42 after a pair of Cierra Jennings free throws with 1:54 remaining.
The Lady Indians went up for good when Jalissa Sandifer banked a short jumper in the lane with 1:18 left, and after Hazlehurst won possession on a jump ball, two free throws by Yashunda Williams sealed it.
Sandifer led Hazlehurst with 16 points, while Nicole Perry scored 12. Smith had nine and Williams eight, as the Lady Indians improved to 23-8.
West, which finished 25-9, made a strong bid for another State Tournament appearance after advancing to the last two title games. Wilson had 14 points for the Lady Knights, while Shannon Lloyd scored 12 and Jennings eight.
Southeast Lauderdale 89,
Wilkinson County 60
The Division 5-3A champion Lady Tigers gradually pulled away from their quarterfinal opponent, turning a tight game early into a blowout after wearing down the Lady Wildcats.
Southeast's pressure didn't necessarily overwhelm Wilkinson, but when the Lady Wildcats did get the ball down the floor, they didn't execute. The Lady Tigers, on the other hand, used their transition game to go up by as many as 19 midway through the second quarter.
Wilkinson cut it to 12 at the half and got the first two baskets of the third quarter to pull within eight. But Southeast finished the third with a 10-2 run to build its lead to 65-50, then blew it open in the fourth.
Five Lady Tigers scored in double figures in the victory, helping Southeast improve to 32-2 on the year. Samantha Smith scored 19, LaShondra Hall tallied 17, Shalonda Mitchell and Ebony Moore scored 15 apiece and Stacey Tate overcame early foul trouble to net 13.
Bailey, a 6-foot-2 senior, led Wilkinson with 25 points, while Williams tallied 14. The Lady Wildcats finished 19-12.
Choctaw Central 66,
Franklin County 43
The Lady Dawgs from Meadville brought one of the better stories to the South State tourney, but sentiment didn't help much against the host team.
Franklin County, which was winless just two seasons ago, rode a hot streak to the quarterfinal round despite sporting a roster with no seniors. But the Lady Dawgs could stay with Choctaw Central for only about five minutes of the first quarter.
A 12-2 run to end the first period for Choctaw gave the Lady Warriors an 18-8 advantage, and a 10-0 run to end the first half sent Choctaw into the locker room with a 37-20 advantage.
Freshman Mystee Dale scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Choctaw, while Chantay Frazier who had assists on her team's first five baskets of the game finished with 18 points and nine assists.
Shyatesa York added 15 points for 32-2 Choctaw, which forced Franklin County into 20 turnovers.
Victoria Hunt led the Lady Dawgs with 19 points, while Shonique Gibbs tossed in eight as Franklin ended its season with a 16-9 record.