The Meridian Star
With his team in foul trouble and opposing West Lauderdale trimming the lead, Quitman guard Josh Cannon shined brightest, scoring 12 second-half points and leading the Panthers to a 67-53 win on the road Friday.
“I just had to step up for my team,” Cannon said. “We were in a bad situation on the road I was just trying to get back into the game and score points.”
After leading by as many as 18 points early in the third quarter, the Knights fought back, trimming the Panther lead to 10 points early in the fourth. With his team holding on to a 53-43 lead, Cannon put the team on his back, scoring on three straight possessions to put the game out of reach at 60-45.
“Josh Cannon played a good second half for us,” Quitman coach Steve Hampton said. “Anthony McGee was huge for us inside coming off the bench when Dequan Stanley and Darius Hicks got in foul trouble for us.”
West was led by sophomore guard Noah Nix and senior center J.D. Williams, who both scored 10 points for the Knights. However, Quitman kept senior K.D. Edmonds contained on the night, holding the usual scoring threat to only three points.
“I think that is probably the best defensive game we have played all year,” Hampton said. “We frustrated J.D. a little bit, and we knew that was going to be a big key to us winning. I was proud of how we played tonight.”
The Knights entered the game 14-4 (2-2), but were no match for a Quitman team that appears so far to be among the district's elite.
“It was a big win,” Hampton said. “Any time you win in district on the road, it's a big thing. Our district top to bottom, anybody can beat anybody on a given night. Laurel is supposed to be the cream of the crop, but there are some tough teams.”
The win moves Quitman to 13-5 (4-1) on the season, as the Panthers travel to Northeast Jones on Tuesday.
“I think we can go far,” Cannon said. “Anything less than state for us this year will be a disappointment.”
West Lauderdale 46
Quitman girls head coach Gina Skelton stressed to her team at halftime, they had to a better job controlling rebounds. The highly favored Panthers let a 3-11 West Lauderdale team stay in the game through much of the first half, and went into the break only up 34-27. The Knights tallied 10 offensive rebounds in the first half and were able to capitalize on multiple second-chance opportunities to keep them in the game.
The Panthers rallied behind Skelton's words in the third quarter, not only crashing the boards, but also beating the Knights to balls and generating fast break points for guards Ameonia House and Shonte' Hailes. The Panthers outscored West Lauderdale 18-5 in the third quarter, safely putting the game away at 52-32 heading into the fourth en route to an easy 65-46 road win.
“We like playing a full-court game,” Skelton said. “If we can get folks to play us in a full-court game, we feel confident about our chances of winning.”
Hailes led the Panthers on the night with 16 points and five assists, while House chipped in 15 points of her own to go along with four assists.
“Those are two are usually are two biggest scorers,” Skelton said. “They have got to score for us. They are the ones that really make us go.”
With the win Quitman improves to 15-6 (5-0) on the season, the loss drops West Lauderdale to 3-12 (1-3). Quitman will travel to Northeast Jones on Tuesday, while the Knights travel to Laurel on Tuesday.
“It's always big to win on the road,” Skelton said. “We have only played everybody once. We still need to play everybody another round, and there is always the division tournament. We still got another round with some of them, and we will see some of these teams three times, so you can't get complacent."