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Malone, Meridian Boys Top Quitman

MALONE, MERIDIAN BOYS TOP QUITMAN

Meridian High School's Jay Malone sliced into the lane midway through the fourth quarter, pulled up 6 feet from the basket and softly floated his shot through the net. On the sideline, Meridian coach Randy Bolden emphatically clapped his hands three times and shouted, "That a way, Jay Malone," to his point guard. The scoring play was just one of a number of key plays the junior provided to help his team race past Quitman High School 71-34 Tuesday night. "Jay is my second son," Bolden said. "I love him to death, and I have great expectations for him and expect a lot out of him. He knows I'm very cautious about who I give my basketball to, and he's taken it, and I think he's doing a great job. You see me coaching him hard, but I'm coaching him out of love." Malone had just six points at the half, but turned it up in the final two periods to finish with a team-high 18 points. When he wasn't scoring, the 5-foot-10 guard was dishing out a number of nifty assists, including executing a 2-on-1 fast break to perfection that resulted in a Keith Horne layup. "I just try to lead my team," Malone said. "Whether it's scoring, playing defense or passing the ball. Whatever I have to do to lead my team, I'll do it." "I love Coach Bolden. I love the way he coaches me, and I wouldn't want it any other way; that's my guy." Ledarius Brewer chipped in with 10 points, while David McCoy and Tyron Brewer had 10 and 17 points, respectively, off the bench. "(Tyron) is so long and energetic," Bolden said of his sophomore forward. "He's soaking everything up like a sponge. He makes a lot of mistakes, but he makes them playing hard, and I can live with them. I think the sky is the limit for Ty. He loves basketball, and he loves his team, and he just brings so much energy." Meridian (11-1) led at the half 31-13. Quitman found itself trailing early and often as Meridian jumped out to an 11-2 advantage in the first quarter, forcing Panthers coach Chris Coleman to call a timeout. "(Tuesday) we didn't match their intensity," Coleman said. "They came to play, and you have to give them all the credit; those guys are good. It's just simple; they are a good basketball team." Josh Beard led Quitman with 12 points. "You have to pick your poison (with Meridian)," Coleman said. "We go up there (a Dec. 1 67-46 loss) the first time and (McCoy) goes for seven 3s and 29 points. I didn't emphasize in the game plan (Tuesday), because I didn't know if he would have the same game. In the first half, (Ledarius) comes out and scores 10, so our halftime adjustment goes toward him. He doesn't score in the second half, but his brother (Tyron) goes for about 14. What can you do? At the end of the day, you have to give (Meridian) credit; they're good. Randy Bolden does a great job with his kids, and he gets the best out of them." With its win, Meridian has recorded a pair of back-to-back road wins after defeating Wayne County High School 78-41 last week. The Wildcats now boast a 6-1 road record. "I learned that we are a really good team when we play together," Malone said. "We are a young team, but as long as we stick together, we will be just fine." Meridian will be back in Friday when it hosts Gulfport High School, while Quitman takes on Terry High School Dec. 28. QUITMAN STAVES OFF MERIDIAN'S SURGE Quitman High School survived a third-quarter surge from Meridian High School to notch a hard-earned 51-38 win Tuesday in girls basketball action. After seeing a 18-point halftime advantage trimmed to just six entering the fourth quarter, the Lady Panthers responded by outscoring the Lady Wildcats 15-8 in the final period to claim the win. "This is a very good learning experience for us," Quitman coach Gina Skelton said. "We talked (at halftime) that we needed to go out and take care of business, and we came out a little too relaxed and let them come back on us." Despite dropping its guard in the third quarter, Skelton was quick to note her team's response in the fourth period. "We hung in there and maintained our composure, and we were gradually to pull back ahead," Skelton said. "I think we did a better job of boxing out and making free throws." Quitman (7-2) was led by its stellar backcourt, Shonte Hailes and Chequira Bonner, who scored 20 and 15 points, respectively. "It's great having (Bonner) next to me," Hailes said. "Once she gets going, she still finds a way to get me the ball and get me started. We just have that bond to where we get each other going." Meridian's second-half rally started on the opening possession, which eventually led to a 11-0 spurt. "Honestly, I wish we would have had that from the beginning," Meridian coach Patricia Wilson said. "Only thing I could tell the players at halftime was that we had to score baskets." The Lady Wildcats clawed their way back from the double-digit deficit, eventually cutting Quitman's lead to four, 34-30, late in the third quarter. Tariah Mouton led Meridian with 13 points.

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