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Lady Wolves defeat East Central; Co-Lin suffers heartbreaker

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT / Co-Lin's Kierra Collins (11) drives in on a breakaway layup attempt as East Central Tynika Bender (20) hustles in to defend the play Thursday night at Mullen Gymnasium.

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT / Co-Lin’s Kierra Collins (11) drives in on a breakaway layup attempt as East Central Tynika Bender (20) hustles in to defend the play Thursday night at Mullen Gymnasium.

WESSON – Freshmen guard Claresa Banks pumped in a team-high 19 points and dominated the boards by grabbing 22 rebounds to lead four players in double figures as the Co-Lin Lady Wolves scratched out a 73-66 victory over the East Central Lady Warriors Thursday night in South JUCO action at Mullen Gymnasium.

In men’s action, the Wolves suffered a heartbreaking 62-61 defeat on a last second tip-in by the Warriors.

Co-Lin returns to action Monday as they prepare to host their last home game of the year against the Hinds Bulldogs. The women will tip off at 6 p.m., followed by the men’s game at 8 p.m.

Co-Lin 73, East Central 66 

The Lady Wolves and the Lady Warriors provided a tough defensive battle for their basketball fans as both team fought hard in a seesaw contest.

In the first half, the Lady Wolves came out strong to take a nine-point lead, before East Central charged back to claim a 37-32 lead at halftime.

In the second half, the offensive seesaw battle heated up as the both teams traded baskets throughout the rest of the contest, before Co-Lin (14-7, 7-5) managed to put together a late push in the last two minutes of the game.

Sophomore guard Kierra Collins sparked Co-Lin’s late surge with two great defensive steals to help unite a 10-3 run over East Central. With the win, the Lady Wolves are still in the hunt for the final spot in the State Tournament, which begins in two weeks.

Jessica Wilson was the second leading scorer for the Lady Wolves with 14 points. Collins provided the Lady Wolves with a double-double performance of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Ashley Minor added 11 points.

“This was an ugly game, but it is still a win for us,” said Co-Lin women coach Gwyn Young. “In the first half, we shot terrible due to the fact that we were rushing our shots and not running our offensive game plan. We needed to be more disciplined on offense, and we were not.”

For the game, the Lady Wolves shot a cold 34 percent from the field, while finishing 0-17 behind the arc and finished 21/38 at the free throw line. The Lady Warriors were ice cold on the court with a field goal percentage of 29.

“In the second half, we played a lot better and managed to put together a late surge with two minutes left to preserve the win,” continued Young. “We were very lucky to survive this battle.”

Jaleshia Jones was the top scorer for the Lady Warrior with a game-high 25 points and 12 rebounds. Tynika Bender contributed 11 points and Anna Nowell had 10 points. Kimberly Wallace led on the boards with 15 rebounds.

East Central 62, Co-Lin 61 

With only six men on the squad, the Co-Lin Wolves gave a strong effort to win two games in a row as they managed to control the tempo of the game, holding the East Central in check throughout most of the game as the Wolves carried a 30-25 lead in halftime.

In the second half, the Warriors managed to wear down Co-Lin’s short staff squad late in the game as the Wolves went scoreless on offense in the last three minutes of the contest. Co-Lin’s defense stood strong in the final minutes and held East Central scoreless as well, while nursing 61-60 in the closing second.

With missed layup opportunities and four missed free throws by the Wolves in the closing, the Warriors tipped in the game-winning basket to steal the victory.

Sophomore guard Michael Vardaman was the offensive leader for the Wolves with 22 points and eight rebounds. Terry Morris chipped in with 16 points. Lorenzo Deans helped on the boards with seven rebounds.

“I am very proud of the guys,” said Co-Lin’s first year men’s coach Kenny Bizot. “We came out fighting from the start and finished strong. This is a tough lose to swallow, but the guys played hard. Fatigue started to set in late in the game as we had the opportunities to secure the win, but failed to hit our shots, key free throws and grab that big rebound we needed at the end.”

Jacques Johnson powered East Central’s offense with a game-high 23 points. Quinton Campbell netted 12 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. Terrance Mjahid helped on the boards with 11 rebounds.

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT / Co-Lin's Michael Vardaman (left) drives past East Central's Ramone Tate (12) Thursday night in men's action.

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT / Co-Lin’s Michael Vardaman (left) drives past East Central’s Ramone Tate (12) Thursday night in men’s action.