By Reed DeSalvo \ The Meridian Star
The Meridian Star
JACKSON — Kemper County High School's season has come to an end. The Wildcats dropped their boy's 3A state semifinal matchup with Velma Jackson High School, 66-36, Saturday at the Mississippi Coliseum.
The Falcons (33-2) dominated the contest on many levels: limiting Kemper to 26 percent shooting for the game; controlling a 42-25 rebound advantage; recording seven blocks to Kemper's one; and dishing out 10 assists to five for the Wildcats.
Kemper, which sports three freshman starters, was outmatched from the outset.
The Wildcats (16-19) managed to jump out to an early 5-2 advantage minutes into the contest. The score would mark the last time to have Kemper in front.
From there, Velma would end the quarter on a 13-4 run.
The Bobcats were led offensively by Quinndary Weatherspoon, who poured in a game-high 23 points, including two first quarter 3-pointers.
"We push ourselves hard every day," Weatherspoon said. "We work hard every day. I'm just looking forward to bringing another state championship home."
Velma would build on their strong first quarter with a dominating second period.
In the second, VJHS outscored Kemper 14-5, which included an 8-0 run to end the half to take a 29-14 lead to the locker room.
"We were able to get points in transition," Velma Jackson coach Anthony Carlyle said. "Each possession was tough, so the fact that we were able to get out in transition helped us."
Kemper's Daetrell Bell, who finished with a team-high 15 points, cut the deficit to 11, 32-21 with six points to start the third.
"(Bell) made me so proud out there," Kemper County coach Maurice Haralson said. "He gave it everything he got. He gave the example of how you should always compete... That's why he's the captain."
But that's as close as the Wildcats would come.
Along with Weatherspoon, Velma's Kendarius Smith took over. The Falcons went on an 8-0 run and Smith poured in the first six points of the fourth quarter to help build upon a lead that eventually ballooned to as high as 33 points. Smith finished with 22 points and four assists.
"I told (Smith) last year that as far as us making a deep run that it all depends on how well he plays," Velma Jackson coach Anthony Carlyle said. "He played with a chip on his shoulder with not getting a lot of recognition. But he played really solid today, like he has been all season long."
For Kemper, Otis Cross chipped in 13 points and there's a lot to look forward to with only two graduating seniors and a wealth of experience set to return next season.
"I got faith in these guys," Bell said. "I believe they'll be back next year. It was a great year working with them... I told them to keep their heads up and keep fighting."
"We're going to work had in the offseason and try get to that next level for the future," Haralson added.