The Meridian Star
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.
Moss Point 62
The Meridian boys' basketball team opened the season at the Pearl Classic hosted by Pearl High School and came out with the win, 80-62, over Moss Point.
The Wildcats opened strong, posting 24 points in the first quarter. They added 19 to take a 43-30 lead into half time. After holding Moss Point to 11 points in the third quarter, it attempted a comeback with 21 in the fourth but Meridian stayed consistent, putting up 19 and 18 in each second half quarter.
Jontavious THomas led the Wildcats posting his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Joel Baskin was the over all scoring, leading Meridian with 24 points (six rebounds). Brandon Miller added 16 points. Robert Peden rounded out double-digit scorers with 12.
Meridian (0-1) will hit the road on Tuesday, traveling to Lanier at 7:30 p.m.
West Lauderdale 35
Northeast Lauderdale 32
The West Lauderdale and Northeast Lauderdale girls' basketball teams found themselves squaring up for a county rivalry game on neutral territory at the Kemper County Tip Off Classic on Saturday afternoon.
Northeast Lauderdale's Dana Logan caught fire in the third quarter, scoring 12 points but it wasn't enough to over come a strong first half by West, who earned a slim victory, 35-32, in the season opener.
The Knights took a 21-25 lead into half time before Logan's explosion. She hit a 3-pointer in the first quarter and then connect on four consecutive in the third as the Trojans spotted 16 points to take a 2-point lead, 30-28 into the fourth quarter. West clinched the game with a 7-2 run in the fourth quarter, 35-32.
The Knights were led by Mallory Woolridge with 14 points, three 3-pointers. Alex Jenkins added 8.
Logan finished the game with 17 points, five 3-points and 2-for-2 on foul shots. Keira Walker added six points for Northeast.
JUCO Men's Basketball
East Central 77
Mississippi Delta 72
The East Central Community College men's basketball team rallied late again Mississippi Delta Community College to win 77-72 on Saturday.
At halftime, the Warriors were down 43-30 and continued to trail until the final two minutes when they pulled ahead and ran to the victory.
East Central (2-1) was led by Quinton Campbell and Jacques Johnson each with 17 points. Michael Matlock added 15.
Mississippi Delta had four double-digit scorers: Marquarius Boddie (20), Nathaniel Watkins (13), Johnny Rucker (12) and James Evans (10).
JUCO Women's Basketball
Mississippi Delta 85
East Central 77
The East Central Community College women's basketball team's season-opening winning streak came to an end as it dropped at 85-77 decision to Mississippi Delta Community College on Saturday.
After trailing 34-28 at halftime, the Warriors put up a fight in the second half, almost matching the Trojans effort but fell just short, scoring 49 to their 51 points.
East central (2-1) was led by Jaleshia Jones with 21 points. She had help from Eryanna McClendon (16), Tynika Bender (14) and Tanihhija Hughes (11).
Mississippi Delta was led by Aqueshia Kimble's 23 points. Kalesha Williams and Niya Head each added 15. Krystal Nailer chipped in 10 points.