The Meridian Star
The Meridian boys basketball team experienced frustration, jubilation and heartbreak all in one game, as the Wildcats fell in overtime to Hattiesburg 74-61 in the Region 5-6A final at Petal High School on Friday.
Trailing the Tigers by as many as 16 points late in the third quarter, the Wildcats battled back forcing Hattiesburg into turnovers with a grueling full-court press and slowly chipping down the lead.
Down three, following two free-throw misses from Hattiesburg’s Tony Bridges, the Wildcats would complete the comeback. After the Wildcats failed on tw straight 3-point attempts, Davontae Brewster found the ball in the corner with six seconds left in the game. With a defender draped over him, the point guard connected on a fall-away jumper to tie the game and force overtime.
“We have a lot of faith in him,” Meridian head coach Randy Bolden said of Brewster. “We knew eventually we were going to find it, and it was going to go in.”
However, the Wildcats were not able to sustain their momentum in overtime, as Bridges and the Tigers stormed past Meridian in overtime to secure the district title. Bridges led Hattiesburg with 22 points on the night and was named Region 5-6A MVP.
“It was a great game,” Hattiesburg head coach and former MHS head man Ernie Watson said. “Meridian is a good team, we just had to play our game and not be afraid of what they do.
“I just told my team in overtime, they would have won if they had just hit their free throws. I told them they were going to have to do it the hard way now. They came back out to play, so they won the game.”
Meridian received a good game from center Dennis Miles, who finished the game with 13 points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots. Miles was crucial to Wildcats’ comeback, but fouled out in overtime, allowing Hattiesburg to operate in the post and pull away for the win.
The Wildcats will now look to rebound from the loss, as they will nowbe forced to travel in the first round of the state playoffs.
“Any time you go on the road its tough,” Bolden said. “But we will be ready for it.”