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Panthers show poise late vs. Meridian

PANTHERS SHOW POISE LATE VS. MERIDIAN

Quitman High School demonstrated poise and confidence in the waning moments to beat Meridian High School 47-43 in girls basketball action Tuesday night. The MHSAA Class 4A Lady Panthers outscored the 6A Lady Wildcats 6-2 in the final 90 seconds to emerge with the win. "This is a huge win for us," Quitman coach Gina Skelton said. "Any time you can beat a Meridian team (it's significant), and it's just a war every time (you face Meridian on the road)." Sendreca Howard's layup and Shonte Hailes' two free throws late in the game proved to be the difference. Senior guard Chequira Bonner led Quitman with 13 points. "It was pretty important for us to win, and we executed really well," Bonner said. "It was big for us to come together on the road, and that's what we did." Hailes, a Southern Miss signee, added nine points for the Lady Panthers. "We're in charge of everyone," Bonner said of her and Hailes' role on the team. "We're expected to come out and do what we need to do (every game)." Although the end result was not what Patricia Wilson wanted, the Meridian coach said she was pleased with her team's effort and the progression its shown in the early season. "We actually played a lot harder than we've played in the past," Wilson said. "But we're still making some young mistakes — not being able to finish around the basket, but a play here and a play there, it's a different outcome." Quitman (4-1) jumped out to a 14-6 lead at the end of the first quarter and led 23-17 at halftime. However, Meridian (1-6) managed to take the lead, 27-26 with 3:00 to minutes to play in the third quarter, but the Lady Panthers remained composed. "We had some crucial turnovers, but (Meridian's Zaria Jones) was killing us on the boards," Skelton said. "We had to try and make some kind of adjustment on her, so we could at least slow her down. "The difference for us (Tuesday), I felt like the girls remained positive, when some things didn't go our way. I was really proud they kept positive energy and maintained their poise. I'm extremely proud of them." Jones led Meridian with 20 points. "She was very aggressive offensively and defensively," Wilson said. "If she doesn't show up for us, then we are in trouble. We depend on her heavily — inside and out. She has to help with ball handling, and defensively, she is just a strong presence." Quitman will host Southeast Lauderdale Tuesday, while Meridian will host Callaway High School. "It's a growing process, and hopefully by the second half of the year, we'll have corrected a lot of (our mistakes)," Wilson said. "When we can keep our turnovers down, there's a better chance of us being successful."

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