By Steve Swogetinsky

Kemper County Messenger

There will be plenty of basketball action this week in the Kemper County gym as the Wildcats host the annual Sam Dale tournament.

Joining both Kemper County teams will be Southeast Lauderdale, Northeast Lauderdale and Quitman. This event is a hold-over from the old Sam Dale Conference and rotates each year among the four schools.

The tournament starts Thursday and will conclude on Friday. The schedule is as follows:

Thursday night

4 p.m. – Southeast Lauderdale girls vs. Northeast Lauderdale

5:30 p.m. – Southeast Lauderdale boys vs. Northeast Lauderdale

7 p.m. – Kemper County girls vs. Quitman

8:30 p.m. – Kemper County boys vs. Quitman

Kemper County has played Northeast Lauderdale once this year, dropping 79-75 decision.  Thursday’s game will be the Wildcats’ first meeting with Quitman this year. Both the Wildcats and the Panthers have tough schedules and have one victory apiece to their credit, Quitman has beaten South Jones according to Max Prep and Kemper County has a win over Philadelphia. The Wildcats also have not played against Southeast Lauderdale.

On Saturday, the Wildcats will play in the Bay Springs Christmas tournament, taking on Newton High at 4 p.m. Next week, the Wildcats will host West Point while on Friday, Jan. 5, they host Philadelphia.

The Wildcats went 0-2 during the week before Christmas. They lost 51-48 to West Point and 83-49 to Sumter Central.

 “We are playing some close games,” Coach Daryl Osby said. “I think we are getting ready to turn the corner and put up some wins. We have been working on fundamentals and situations. We have a lot of young guys playing and they are getting some good experience.”

The Wildcats had a shot at tying the game with West Point in the final seconds but the attempted three-point shot didn’t fall. The Green Wave led 16-9 after the first quarter. Kemper County outscored West Point 15-14 in the second quarter and trailed 30-24 at the half. Kemper County made up some ground in the third quarter, outscoring the Green Wave 14-11 in the third quarter. Kemper County trailed 41-38 heading into the fourth quarter. Both teams scored 10 points in the final eight minutes and West Point held on for the win.

Timothy McElroy scored 25 points while pulling down 15 rebounds and blocking 10 shots. Oavion McClendon scored 10 points.

 Sumter County jumped out to a 49-28 halftime lead and held on for the victory. McElroy scored 14 points and pulled down 13 rebounds. James Granger scored 12 points while McClendon and Trakaleb Welch both scored 10 points.