January 17, 2012

Tough Ending

Local teams fall on final day of Rush Extravaganza

January 17, 2012 By David Landrum / Sports Writer The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     The 2012 Rush Extravaganza Basketball Classic concluded Monday as the Meridian girls basketball team took on Provine in the finale.

    Eyonna Wolfe scored 17 points as Provine won 57-47. Wolfe was one of four Rams to score in double figures. Angelique Burns scored 14, while Kristen Sampson and Roshanae Moore scored 10 apiece. Provine coach Valerie Mignott said her team needed to establish  the pace of the game early.

    "I told them to go out there and play hard ball," Mignott said. "I told them to go out and have fun and be more aggressive (than Meridian).”

    Maya King and Kayla Gordon each scored 18 points to lead Meridian, while Tyquisha Naylor scored seven in the loss.

    "We weren't able to hit our shots so they were able to pack in that 2-3 zone and stop anything coming in to the middle," Meridian coach Patricia Wilson said. "That forced us to hit shots from the outside and we couldn't. That's been our issue over the last couple of ballgames.

    "Last time I checked, you've got to be able to put it in the hole to win."

    Wilson said the combination of King and Gordon have been the main cogs in the machine for most of the season. However, for the machine to run more efficiently, there needs to be a few more cogs in the machine.

    "Consistently, throughout the year, they've been carrying us offensively but we have to have someone else step up and play that role," Wilson said. "We cannot expect two kids to carry us the whole year. We have to have kids step up and help us."

    Poor offensive play dominated the first half. Gordon had six of Meridian's first 10 points. However, turnovers and miscues offensively plagued the Wildcats. Defensively, though, Meridian held Provine in check as Meridian led 10-6 after one. The sloppy play continued in the second quarter as both teams combined for 22 points in a 19-19 tie. Meridian went cold from the outside and forgot about Gordon. Wilson said the message was quite clear at halftime.

    "I told them we needed to get out of the slump," Wilson said. "We've got to pick up the momentum and get out of the slump. If the outside shot is not falling, take it to the rack and score."

    The shooting woes continued.

    Meridian shot 1 for 10 from behind the 3-point line and 9 for 20 from the charity stripe. The cold shooting allowed Provine to get into transition and take a 34-28 lead into the final quarter. They also found an answer for Gordon.

    "We double-teamed (Gordon) and we cut the pass off because we knew she was going to present a challenge for us," Mignott said. "Gordon is a great player. We knew that coming over here and my girls were a little intimidated because she is that good."

    Then things got chippy between the two teams. Down 50-41 with just over two minutes left in the contest, Meridian mounted one final charge. Naylor stole the inbounds pass and scored on a layup. Gordon, after getting an offensive rebound, cut the lead to five and forced Provine to call timeout.

    Momentum seemed to lean Meridian's way but the Wildcats would turn the ball over on their next two possessions. Provine, though, did Meridian a huge favor by missing six of their final eight free throws and giving Meridian a chance to stay in the game. Meridian, however, couldn't get over the hump as the buzzer sounded.

    Meridian dropped to 14-6 with the loss. The Wildcats host Petal on Tuesday in a huge division showdown. Wilson said the goal is to win the division. To  do that, however, her team is going to have to play a complete game.

    "We are going to have to play hard from the beginning. We've got to be in the swing of things from the start," Wilson said. "We can't go into games looking to dig ourselves out of holes. We've got to show up ready to play."

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