December 2, 2009 8:25:00 AM
ABERDEEN-- The third quarter proved to be the difference here Tuesday evening, as Aberdeen and Noxubee County high schools split a varsity basketball doubleheader.
Leading 30-27 at halftime, the unbeaten Lady Bulldogs (5-0) outscored Noxubee County 25-15 in the third period en route to a 74-63 win against the Tigerettes (4-2).
In the boys game, Aberdeen (1-4) had a surprising 35-26 halftime lead against Noxubee (5-2), but the Tigers lit the board for 38 third-quarter points in what turned out to be an 84-62 win for coach T.J. Billups.
In the girls game, Noxubee County''s Geraldine Campbell won the individual scoring battle with 34 points, but Aberdeen''s Jameika Hoskins won the war.
Campbell drilled her first 3-pointer at the 6-minute, 35-second mark of the first quarter and then added a second long-range bomb to lead the Tigerettes to a 6-4 lead, but Hoskins countered with four baskets to give her team a 16-13 cushion at the end of the first quarter.
Two more baskets by Campbell pushed Noxubee to its last lead, 19-18, with 6:40 left before half, but Hoskins scored six points and Dayana McGee added a pair of baskets to help preserve the Lady Bulldogs'' halftime lead.
But then Regina Barker bagged three quick buckets, Sommer Burnett added a 3-pointer, and Michelle Stewart kicked in with a basket and a free throw to make it 43-32 just two-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter.
A pair of treys by Janee Hodges, another long-range bomb by Burnett, and five more points from Hoskins pushed the Aberdeen margin to 57-38 before the Tigerettes scored the final four points to make it 57-42 going into the fourth quarter.
The lead swelled to 68-49 midway through the fourth period, but Campbell scored 13 points in the final two minutes on three 3-pointers, a basket, and a pair of free throws for the final count.
Hoskins finished with 25 points, seven rebounds, two steals, and an assist to pace the Lady Bulldogs. Burnett chipped in with 14 points and Barker added 12 to give Aberdeen three starters in double figures. McGee and Hodges just missed the double-figure mark with eight points apiece, while Stewart and Ebony Jones rounded out the scoring with five and two points, respectively.
Barker led all rebounders with 12, followed by McGee (10), Hoskins, Stewart (six), and Hodges (four).
Barker also had three steals and McGee had a like number of assists.
"Our plan was to try and stay with them for two quarters and then hit ''em hard with the press in the third period," Aberdeen coach Latorrence Bivens said. "Then at halftime, we tried to figure out what our mistakes were and I encouraged Jameika (Hoskins) to look for the drive if the three wasn''t there.
"In the end, execution and unselfish ballhandling gave us as close to a complete game as we have played this year."
Noxubee had only two players -- Campbell and Aja Forte (15 points) -- in double figures. Jasmine Little (six) and Brianna Brooks (five) also contributed.
Billups said defense was the difference in the third quarter.
"We got out of our zone and, looking back, that''s something we should not have done," Billups said. "We aren''t really effective playing man-to-man, and it showed there in the third quarter."
He also cited the need for a better performance from his post players.
"We need to get more out of our inside people, because Campbell can''t do it all by herself and we can''t always rely on her to do all the scoring," said Billups. "She (Campbell) is definitely our best player, but she would be even better if she played hard all the time."
In the boys game, Aberdeen, missing a dozen players from the football team who are competing for the Class 3A state championship in Jackson on Saturday, built a 10-0 lead less than three minutes into the game and led 35-26 at halftime using essentially its B-team.
The Bulldogs extended the lead to 10 early in the third quarter thanks to a pair of baskets by Earnest Williams (team-high 24 points).
But Noxubee sharpshooters Myguell Grace and Daquarious Mallard took advantage of a rash of turnovers and combined to hit seven long-range jumpers to turn the 10-point deficit into an 18-point lead (64-46) entering the fourth quarter.
"I really didn''t have a lot to say at halftime," said Billups, who also heads up the boys'' program. "All I told them was, ''Wednesday, Thursday and Friday -- no ball practice like we had yesterday.''
"I didn''t say much the second half, either, just held up a clipboard with ''no ball practice'' on it and with no ball, that means a lot of running, and I guess they just didn''t want to go through that again."
The Tigers'' hot shooting from beyond the arc cooled off in the fourth quarter, but their relentless pressure continued to force turnovers as the lead swelled to 82-54 with a just under three minutes left in the game.
"When you can''t move the ball from point A to point B, you''re not going to win many basketball games," said Aberdeen coach Roy Hazzle, who refused to use the missing players as an excuse. "We played about as well as we could the first half and I couldn''t have asked for more, but we ran out of steam in the third quarter when their 1-2-2 press took its toll."
Noxubee nailed 10 3-pointers to account for 30 of its 84 points, as Mallard led all scorers with 28. Grace finished with 22, 15 of which came from downtown range in the third period.
Dontavious Singleton also had 12 points and Howard Spann added 10 to give the Tigers four players in double figures.
Anthony McDonald (15) and Elliott Johnson (10) also finished in the twin digit range.
"This was Earnest''s (Williams) first game back after suffering from an eye injury several weeks ago," Hazzle said. "I was curious as to how he would play after missing so much time, but overall he did OK."
Because the football team is playing for the state championship Saturday, the Bulldogs won''t play in the Okolona Classic this weekend. Next up for the Dogs is a visit by Starkville on Tuesday.
"We''ll have everybody back by then," said Hazzle, who will be the guest of honor Sunday afternoon when the Aberdeen gym is officially named in his honor. "We''ll put ''em to work, get ''em in shape, put ''em on the court, and maybe we''ll have a better chance to win from here on out."