Meridian Star


November 9, 2013

MSHAA basketball season opens, West sweeps Northeast

DEKALB — As of Friday night, the high school football officially rolled over into the postseason as the final regular season games wrapped up.

    But there are no breaks in high school athletes. On Saturday, the basketball season was christened with Classic tournaments across the state.

    The Northeast Lauderdale and West Lauderdale boys' basketball teams, former division foes, squared off to open the season at the Kemper County Tip Off Classic on Saturday afternoon. The Knights' defense shined in the 53-42 win.

     "I think we did really well on defense. We didn't rebound the second shot as well, but our initial defense was real good," West Lauderdale head coach Duran Clark said. "I didn't think we'd win by 13, but I thought it'd go down to the wire. I thought we had a chance."

    "We spent 80 percent of our practices just trying to make sure we can stop the other team from scoring."

    This is West's first season in Region 4-4A, moving the Knights into the MSHAA North and out of the Trojans' district. Clark said the new district has lots of question marks but the familiar matchup was a great first win.

    "We don't know a think. They've got new coaches, one coach left, another one retired, we don't know anything," Clark said. "We're just trying to get better by Jan. 10, that the first district game ...

    The Knights offense was led by EJ Collier with 16 points and Vince Watkins with 13. Ty Harden added 10 to round out West's double-digit scorers. The trio came out of the halftime in sync to push the Knights to the 13-point win.

    "Vince Watkins took over and we were holding them to one shot and getting the rebound [in the second half]," Clark said. "We got some stops. EJ Collier hit some big threes. Zach [Shelly] hit one and we just kind of pull away."

    West jumped out to an early 9-4 lead on a jumper by Vince Watkins to open the game. Northeast fought back and took a brief lead on back-to-back Aaron Adams field goals, 17-13 with 3:74 left in the first half.

    The Knights retaliated by ending the second quarter on an 12-0 run to take a 25-17 lead into the break. but the run didn't subside.

    With 5:08 to play in the third quarter, Watkins drove to the right side around traffic for a layup to take a 33-20 lead.

    Northeast attempted to apply the breaks with a 3-pointer from Tre Naylor, but the Knigths ended the quarter on a 6-2 run, 39-26.

    In the fourth, Collier stole the show from Watkins, sparking a 8-2 run with an opening 3-pointer. Harden capped West's scoring on a layup with 2:20 to play before the Trojans closed the game with a 6-0 run, 53-42.

    From the free throw line, Watkins was the only Knight to connect, finishing 5-for-8. As a team, West went 5-for-11.

     Northeast was led by Adams with 12 points and Maurice Clemons with 11. Naylor was 2-for-4 from the free throw line, finishing with 5 points. As a team, the Trojans were 4-for-14 from the line.

    West (1-0) will be back on the floor on Tuesday against Scott Central in Collinsville. Northeast (0-1) will open its home slate against Neshoba Central. The two Lauderdale schools will rematch at Northeast on Saturday.

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