The Meridian Star
COLLINSVILLE — West Lauderdale boy's basketball head coach Duran Clark will take it.
Despite shooting under 50 percent from the free-throw line, the Knights pulled out a 47-37 win in their district opener against Kosciusko Friday night.
West Lauderdale (16-2, 1-0) had to grind more than it has for most of the season, even trailing the Whippets late in the second quarter. However, a strong second half helped Clark and the Knights put a happy end to a stressful night.
“Look at my face, I'm still sweating,” Clark said. “We knew it was going to be a close game. We got to win them at home, and then we can steal some on the road.”
Senior Vince Watkins led West Lauderdale on the night tallying 22 points and 10 rebounds, including a three-point play right before the half to send the Knights into the break up 23-21. E.J. Collier was also in double digits with 11 points.
“Vince is are go-to guy,” Clark said. “Not only does he score, but he also puts other people in position to score. He is not selfish. We give him the ball because we know good things happen when it is in his hands.”
Watkins said he was happy with the win but noted the Knights will have to improve from Friday night's performance if they want to attain their goal of making it to Jackson for the state championship.
“I just played my game tonight and did my best,” he said. “Hopefully by February we will be clicking better.”
West Lauderdale will continue district play on Tuesday when they travel to Leake Central.
“We are just taking it one game at a time,” Clark said. “We have nine district games left, and we know all of them are going to be a grind.”
West Lauderdale girls 51
Keke Martin led the Lady Knights with 16 points and was followed by Mallory Thompson with 10. West Lauderdale improves to 8-9 on the season and 1-0 in district and will travel to Leake Central on Tuesday.
Meridian girls 55
Oak Grove 49
Kayla Gordon led the Lady Wildcats with 20 points, while Miracle Dubose chipped in with 10 points. Meridian improves to 16-3 and 2-0 in district and will host Petal Tuesday night.
Meridian boys 67
Oak Grove 54
B.J. Miller led the way for the Wildcats with 23 points and six rebounds, while Joel Baskin had 19 points and five rebounds. Meridian improves to 15-5 and 2-0 in district and will host Petal Tuesday night.
Northeast Lauderdale boys 56
Forrest County AHS 41
Trey Naylor scored 11 points for the Trojans, while Maurice Clemons and Harvest Brunson scored 10. Northeast improved to 9-9 and 3-1 in district with the win and will travel to Quitman Tuesday night.
Russell girls 39
Payton Lippert had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Anna James had seven points and six steal to lead Russell Christian Academy. Mallory Harmon led Enterprise with 11 points.
Presbyterian Christian boys 51
Lance Strickland led the Raiders in defeat, tallying 16 points on the night. Trevor Boling also chipped in nine points on the night. Lamar will host Clarkdale on Monday night before traveling to Copiah Academy Tuesday.
Newton County Aca. girls 48
Christian Collegiate 44
Olivia Faulkner scored 17 points to lead the Lady Generals, while Sky Watson was also in double figures with 10 points. Christian Collegiate was led by Madison Bishop with 26 points. NCA improves to 2-7 with the win and will play at Heidelberg on Tuesday.
Newton County Aca boys 63
Christian Collegiate 35
Chance Collins led the Generals with 23 points and also tallied six assists while Nick Pennington scored 11 points and eight rebounds on the night. Christian Collegiate was led by Lorenzo Neville with 11 points.
NCA improves to 7-5 and will play at Heidelberg on Tuesday.
Scores from Newton Co. Invitational
Heidelberg girls 59 OT
Southeast Lauderdale 58
Akebia Cooley led Heidelberg with 20 points while Kyesha Jones also recored double digits for the Oilers with 12 points. Southeast Lauderdale was led by Chariae Harbin with 25 points, while Tia Larkin had 11 points. Southeast Lauderdale will play Union in the consolation game of the Newton County Invitational, while Heidelberg moves on to the championship game against Newton County at 6:30 tonight.
Newton County girls 57
Kaylin McCree led the Lady Cougars with 14 points, while Destiny Snapp scored 11 points on the night. Janesha Mason led Union with nine points.
Newton County (12-4) moves on to the championship game at 6:30 tonight, while Union will face Southeast Lauderdale in the consolation game.
Heidelberg boys 73
Southeast Lauderdale 60
Dale Morris led led the Tigers in defeat with 18 points while Takari Brooks had 10 points for Southeast Lauderdale. Heidelberg will move on to the championship game tonight at 7:45 against Newton County, while Southeast faces Union in the consolation game.
Newton County boys 55
Devonta Hodge scored 19 and DeAndre Wansley scored 15 in the win for the Cougars. Union was led by Quinton Campbell with a game-high 22 points. Newton County (12-3) will advance to the championship game against Heidelberg, while Union plays Southeast Lauderdale in the consolation game.