By Jamie Wachter / Sports Editor
The Meridian Star
When Gelese Lampton nailed her sixth 3-pointer with 13:32 remaining Wednesday night at Graham Gymnasim, the Meridian Community College women's basketball team was right where it, apparently, didn't want to be.
That bucket gave the Eagles a 53-34 lead against Miss-Lou Conference foe Southern-Shreveport. Armed with the seemingly insurmountable lead, MCC relaxed and the Jaguars pounced. Using an immediate 17-2 run, Shreveport battled back and rallied for a 69-67 road win.
“We just got relaxed and we talk daily about how you can't get relaxed when you get a lead, you have to continue to attack the other team and put them away,” MCC coach Jocelyn McGillberry said.
“But we relaxed and once Shreveport got a little confidence, there wasn't anything we could do about it.”
After the 3 from Lampton, Shreveport scored six straight before Malaka Johnson scored on a putback to push MCC back up 55-40. From there, though, three straight MCC turnovers helped spur an 11-0 run that brought the Jaguars back to life. Alexis Glasper had two straight baskets to spark the run, while Shreveport also got 3-pointers in the run from Rene-Ceah Beard, Tytionna Pratt and Trianna Wilridge.
Lampton answered the run with her final bucket with 7:34 remaining and following a Kristen Sampson basket, MCC's lead was back to eight. That was the biggest it would get the rest of the way as Shreveport continued to close. After pulling with 63-60 on a Glasper bucket with 4:11 remaining, Shreveport missed two straight chances to make it a one-point game and then former Meridian High star Reyada Stinner looked to give the Eagles the momentum it needed.
The 5-foot-X sophomore point guard grabbed a defensive rebound and after driving the length of the court, shifted the ball around her back to the opposite hand while driving the lane and finished over a pair of taller Jaguars to put MCC up by five with 3:13 left.
The Eagles, though, wouldn't score again until the final horn sounded. Instead, they continued to turn the ball over, finishing with 20, and also missed five free throws in the final nine minutes of the game, including three front end of 1-and-1s in the final 3:30.
“The past two practices have been like that,” McGillberry said. “After our last win, those two practices, we've been too relaxed. And I've told them how you practice is how you play, and unfortunately, it was.”
With MCC stalling, Shreveport capitalized. The Jaguars clawed back within three on a Pratt basket with 2:12 left and then Wilridge drilled a 3 to tie it with 48 seconds remaining. After MCC missed a pair of shots, Pratt was fouled getting the rebound with 15.7 seconds left and hit two free throws to put Shreveport up 67-65. It was the Jaguars' first lead. Wilridge added two more free throws with eight seconds left. Wilridge and Pratt both finished with 23 points to pace Shreveport, with Pratt hauling in 10 rebounds as well.
Lampton poured in 30 to lead Meridian, which falls to 12-6 and 1-1 in the Miss-Lou. The sophomore, who also finished with nine rebounds, had 22 at halftime as she pushed the Eagles to a 37-24 lead at the break. Stinner assed 10 points and 10 assists.
Meridian men 57
The Jaguars held MCC scoreless for nearly the first four minutes Wednesday, building up a 6-0 lead and cruised from there.
Shreveport gradually pulled away from the Eagles, who fell to 0-19 and 0-2 in conference, in the first half in leading 42-34 at intermission. MCC did make a run early in the second half after the Jaguars went up 50-29 on a Donald Francis 3-pointer at the 16:23 mark.
Limiting Shreveport to just one bucket over the next five minutes, MCC closed within 52-38 as Nick Waters, a former Meridian High standout, started the run with a bucket. TJ Jones, who led the Eagles with 22, then scored four straight before Kenny Davis hit a free throw and a bucket.
However, Shreveport answered right back, scoring eight straight including back-to-back 3-pointers. The Jaguars were led by A'Torri Shine with 18, Francis with 17 and Joseph James with 15.
Waters finished with 10 points and five rebounds for MCC and Corey Brister also added 10 points to complement Jones, who scored the first 10 points of the game for the Eagles.