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LCHS Cougars capture first win, Lady Tigers prevail

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT / Lawrence County's Phillip Moore (23) looks for some help from his teammates as Mendenhall's defender Stone Green (45) blocks off the path to the basket Tuesday night in Lawrence County's Thanksgiving holiday classic.

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT / Lawrence County’s Phillip Moore (23) looks for some help from his teammates as Mendenhall’s defender Stone Green (45) blocks off the path to the basket Tuesday night in Lawrence County’s Thanksgiving holiday classic.

MONTICELLO – Lawrence County and Mendenhall split a varsity basketball double-header in the final two games of the Lawrence County Thanksgiving Classic Tuesday evening at LCHS. The LCHS-Mendenhall tilts wrapped up a full day of action that included seven varsity games and one junior varsity contest.

In boys’ action, the Lawrence County Cougars earned their first win of the season, pulling away from Mendenhall in the second half for a 59-38 win. Mendenhall won the girls’ game, 65-54.

The boys’ game was knotted at 24-24 at halftime, but Pat Bridges’ Cougars dominated the second half, outscoring the Tigers 35-14 after the intermission. Freshman center Keyshawn Feazell led the Cougars with 18 points, eight rebounds, and two blocked shots. Phillip Moore added 12 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Keith Davis pumped in 14 points, and Gabriel Lewis dealt out six assists.

“It was good to get that first win,” Coach Bridges said. “The guys have been working hard, working to become varsity players. We’ve still got a lot of growing pains ahead of us, but we’re getting better.”

The Cougars improved to 1-5 on the season. Mendenhall was led by Rico Barnes, who scored 12 points.

Early scoring woes again did in the Lady Cougars in the girls’ game. Without injured center Dakendra Collins, Lawrence County has struggled mightily on offense. In four games without Collins, LCHS has scored a total of six first-quarter points in four games.

That trend continued on Tuesday, as Mendenhall outscored Lawrence County 15-1 in the first period. The shots started to fall for the Lady Cougars in the second quarter, but that early deficit proved too much to overcome.

Freshman guard Haven Johnson led Lawrence County with 17 points, seven rebounds and eight steals. Deneisha Dickson added 15 points. KeErica Mikell, Destiny Ball and Latasha Rhodes each pulled down five rebounds for the Lady Cougars, who fell to 1-7 on the season.

The game was a long, drawn-out affair that saw 56 fouls, 74 free throws, and six girls – three on each team – that fouled out. Mendenhall used a balanced scoring attack that saw four players reach double figures, accounting for 50 of the Lady Tigers’ 65 points. Cassandra Willis led Mendenhall with 16 points.

“Obviously, the first quarter was the key to the game,” said veteran Lady Cougar mentor Vicki Rutland. “We’re having a tough time scoring without Dakendra. But, I thought our girls competed well to the end. We’ve got some girls who are starting to grow into varsity players.”

Other Games 

In other boys’ games, Wayne County beat Poplarville 52-36, and Quitman defeated Terry 72-54. Wayne County and Quitman each went 2-0 in the two-day affair.

In a junior varsity contest, East Marion edged Lawrence County 44-40.

The Wayne County and Quitman girls also went undefeated in the tourney. Wayne County dominated Poplarville by a 38-7 margin. Quitman defeated Terry, 53-38. Pearl also went 2-0, hammering the East Marion girls by a 52-15 margin.

Lawrence County will next be in action at Wesson, next Tuesday.

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT / Lawrence County's Haven Johnson (21) drives to the basketball for a lay-up as Mendenhall's defender Catrice McCollum hustles in to deny the play Tuesday night.

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT / Lawrence County’s Haven Johnson (21) drives to the basketball for a lay-up as Mendenhall’s defender Catrice McCollum hustles in to deny the play Tuesday night.