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Quitman High School Athletics

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Quitman Tops West Lauderdale

QUITMAN TOPS WEST LAUDERDALE

The final score may have read 54-38, but it didn’t reflect how close the game was until late in the fourth quarter. The Quitman High School girls came into Friday’s contest at West Lauderdale High School undefeated in area play, but it wasn’t until the final 3:34 that the Lady Panthers showed why they’re expected to make a run in the MHSAA Class 4A playoffs. After trailing 31-20 at the half, West Lauderdale limited Quitman to four points in the third quarter and cut that lead to 35-32 going into the final frame. At 5:34, that lead became 38-36 when the Lady Knights’ Amber Anderson hit a field goal, setting up West Lauderdale to try and pull off the upset. Instead, after two scoreless minutes following Anderson’s shot, Quitman went to work by tallying 16 points while limiting West Lauderdale to just two in the game’s waning minutes. Eight of those 16 came from leading scorer Chequira Bonner, who finished the game with 18 points. “Confidence,” West Lauderdale girls coach Matt Lum described how he felt about his girls following the game. “We played with them until about 3 1/2 minutes (remaining), and we had several opportunities there where we could have created some more momentum that probably would have carried us the rest of the way, but they have two really good guards (Bonner and Dandy Dozen selection Shonte Hailes), and they made the plays down the stretch that kind of held us off.” Quitman girls coach Gina Skelton said early foul trouble led to struggles in scoring, but she was proud of how her girls overcame a tough West Lauderdale team. “It kind of hurt us because we had to sit a couple of starters for a little while, and it kind of got us out of synch a little bit,” Skelton said. “We have four seniors, and they’ve been playing together since the seventh grade, and I felt like they showed a good bit of maturity tonight. Even though we had a big lead at halftime, (West Lauderdale) came back and punched us in the mouth, and we were finally able to respond.” A pair of 3-pointers from Hailes and a trey from Bonner helped Quitman jump out to a 15-8 lead over West Lauderdale after one quarter of play. The Lady Panthers hit their first scoring drought early in the second quarter, tallying just four points in the frame’s first five minutes, which allowed the Lady Knights to cut Quitman’s lead to 19-16. But Quitman went on a 12-4 run over the final 2:30 to take an 11-point advantage into halftime. In the third quarter, West Lauderdale began its comeback bid by stymying Quitman offensively, and the Lady Panthers weren’t able to pull out of their offensive funk for a quarter and a half. “I felt like we got a little timid because of being in foul trouble, and (West Lauderdale) did a good job,” Skelton said. Offensively, West Lauderdale slowed down the pace of the game by passing the ball around until a good look became available, which helped keep Quitman from getting into a rhythm for long stretches of time. “We just wanted to take away Nos. 3 and 5 (Hailes and Bonner), because those are two really good players,” Lum said. “We wanted to be patient on offense and get good looks. They’re a really defensive team, and we knew when we had open looks, we were going to have to make them.” In the end, though, the experience of a seasoned Quitman roster made the difference. “We had to come out and start being more aggressive, and against them, that’s hard to do,” Lum said. “They played in the state championship last year, so they know how to close out big ball games. When we have to come out and start defending all over the floor against teams like that, we struggle.” Hailes finished with 16 points for Quitman. West Lauderdale was led in scoring by Jasmine Fortner, who had 11 points. Maggie Wooldridge and Mallory Thompson scored eight points apiece. Quitman rose to 17-5 overall, 7-0 in Region 5-4A, while West Lauderdale fell to 17-7, 4-3. QUITMAN BOYS 53, WEST LAUDERDALE 42 Quitman High School rose to 10-10 overall, 4-2 in area play and will host Northeast Lauderdale next Tuesday. West Lauderdale fell to 12-12 on the season, 4-3 in its region, and will play at Newton County High School Tuesday.

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