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Co-Lin, Southwest meet again

CLINTON – Showdown IV arrives tonight in the championship finalsof the NJCAA Region 23 Basketball Tournament. Archrivals Southwestand Co-Lin collide at 6 p.m. in A.E. Wood Coliseum, meeting for thefourth time this season.

Both teams won their semifinals games Wednesday. Co-Lineliminated Itawamba 65-55 and Southwest surprised Meridian 80-68.That set up a rematch of last Thursday’s MACJC State Tournamentfinals which Co-Lin won 70-65 at Fulton. It gave the Lady Wolves a2-1 series edge over Southwest.

Tonight’s winner advances to the NJCAA National Tournament inSalina, Kan.

Bossier Parish (La.) meets Itawamba in the men’s title gametonight. Bossier eliminated Northwest 117-91 and Itawamba beatHolmes 68-60 in the semifinals.

Co-Lin 65, Itawamba 55

The Lady Wolves (25-2) got a game-high 25 points fromfreshman guard Tiania Burns to beat Itawamba. Sophomore postChristy Brown followed Burns with 13 points and 8rebounds.

Despite early foul trouble for sophomore post MindyLivaudais and freshman forward Lindsay Altman, the Lady Wolveshowled to a 30-17 halftime lead. Burns bagged 18 of her points inthe final 20 minutes of action.

Co-Lin, ranked No. 7 in the latest NJCAA poll, improvedits lead to 18 points, 40-22, when Brown cashed in a 3-point playwith 15:02 left in the game. She scored from the lane and hit afree throw.

“We made some good runs a couple of times and then werelaxed,” said Co-Lin women’s coach Gwyn Young. “Itawamba kept onplaying hard.

“We must play a lot better to have a chance againstSouthwest.”

Itawamba (16-9), coached by Carrie Ball, reduced itsdeficit to 9 points, 59-50, with 3:51 remaining. Two free throws byCasper Bobo set that margin.

Co-Lin responded. Burns scored on an inbounds play.Guard Gwen Smith hit a free throw and Burns tacked on 3 more in thelast 3 minutes to secure the win.

Freshman forward Nikki Blakely, a Brookhaven product,said Itawamba’s comeback worried her. “These kinds of games make menervous. We were up by a bunch.

“We are capable of playing a lot better,” said Blakely.”We must be ready for Southwest.”

On the backboards. Shaquita Smith grabbed 6 rebounds forCo-Lin. Alexya Irvin had 5 rebounds.

Itawamba got 14 points from 5-7 sophomore CasperBobo.

Southwest 80, Meridian 68

A 25-point performance by 6-foot freshman center NakeyaDowning led Southwest (21-6) over Meridian. Natasha Booth added 15points, Traci Forest 14 and Colette White 10.

Meridian (29-3) got 25 points from 6-2 freshman CanteraBrown and 13 from Monique Horner.

@Bbstandings:Co-Lin 65, Itawamba 55

Itawamba (55) Casper Bobo 14, Jones 5, Smith 9, Hadley2, Manning 6, Blake 9, Woodruff 5, Gilleylen 5.

Co-Lin (65) Tiania Burns 25, G. Smith 2, Irvin 4, Altman0, Blakely 5, Livaudais 7, Davis 3, Brown 13, S. Smith6.

Halftime score: Co-Lin 30-17.

Total fouls: Itawamba 19. Co-Lin 18. Fouledout-none.

Free Throws M-A: Itawamba 17-28. Co-Lin17-24.

3-point goals: Burns 3, Blake 2, Bobo,Davis.