Wildcats win thriller at home against Choctaw Central
Wednesday, February 8, 2017 6:00 PM
By Ryan Satcher
Ta'Lia Brown (11) goes up to the basket to score for Kemper County.
Photo by Jason Dyess
Kemper County Messenger
It just seems like every district game seems to come down to the final possession for the Kemper County Wildcats this season.
The Wildcats dropped a heartbreaker to Southeast Lauderdale 48-46 last Tuesday before beating Choctaw Central 61-60 on senior night on Friday night.
"I've started calling us the "Cardiac 'Cats," said coach John Alan Darnell. "Every division game seems to come down to the last play for us."
In girls' action, Kemper County fell to Southeast 63-44 and lost to Choctaw Central 83-39.
Both teams were scheduled to play at Forest on Tuesday in their final district game and will play at Northeast Lauderdale on Thursday.
The Wildcats, now 7-2 in division and 13-8 overall, still have a chance to secure the division regular season title on Tuesday but could also fall to as low as three.
Kemper County's 61-60 win over Choctaw Central kept the team's regular season division title hopes alive.
The Wildcats trailed for most of the second half against a red-hot Warrior team but found a way to win.
"The guys have hearts of champions," said Darnell. "We were down in the fourth and Choctaw Central was hot from the outside but we dug deep and made some big plays. Matt Dale and Malik Jones hit a few big shots for us to keep us alive and we just found a way to win."
Choctaw Central hit 14 three-pointers in the contest and led by two with one minute remaining when Gus Nave got a steal and layup to tie the contest.
After another defensive stop, Kemper County got both ends of a one-and-one from Nave to build a two-point lead. Jameez Simms added a free throw to make the score three points but Choctaw answered with a layup in the final seconds and forced a turnover to get the ball back under their basket with just over a second remaining.
Kemper County deflected the inbounds pass and the clock ran out for the 61-60 victory.
The victory helped the Wildcats bounce back for a disappointing 48-46 loss at Southeast last Tuesday night.
The two teams battled back and forth for most of the night and Kemper County led by one with one minute left and had possession of the ball.
After a missed jumper, Southeast tied the game and added a lay-up in the final seconds to secure the 48-46 victory.
"Any time you play at Southeast you know you are in for a battle," said Darnell. "You've got to play smart offensively and work for every basket against them. We just struggled offensively. We played well enough to win, especially on defense. They just made one more play than we did."
Dale and Nave each finished with 15 points in the loss.
In girls' action, the Lady Wildcats continued to run into stiff competition in their brutal division schedule.
Kemper County struggled with foul trouble last week against Southeast and ran out of steam in a 63-44 loss.
The Lady Wildcats battled and kept the contest close until late in the third quarter when the foul trouble began to catch up with them.
"We played hard," said Kemper County coach Jennie Vance. "We kept it close for a long time but we just ran into foul trouble."
Kiandrea Cherry had 19 points to lead Kemper County while Precious Chamberlin added 15.
Choctaw Central continued their strong season with the 83-39 win over the Lady Wildcats on Friday night.
Chamberlin had 14 points and was perfect from the field while Cherry added 12 in the loss.
Kemper County is hoping to round out the district with a strong showing at Forest to prepare for the division tournament.
"The district tourney is a new season," said Vance. "I think we are ready for it."