Natchez defeats Port Gibson in opener

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 13, 1999

Balanced scoring and the ability to turn up the defensive heat lead Natchez High to a sweep of the Blue Waves of Port Gibson.

Vasshun Newborne poured in 20 points as the boys held of a late rally to hold on 75-64.

However, the girls had a much easier time against a bigger squad with Kristen West chipping in 17 points in a 57-20 rout.

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Both Natchez teams know they will be challenged to replace quality performers and still maintain a high standard of success.

&uot;We need people to step up for players like (Erica) Bennett, and if that happens the expectations are high&uot; said Lady Bulldog mentor Mary Irving. Senior Nicole Jones believes her team can go far, &uot;if we can play together and under control.&uot;

Similar sentiments were expressed on the boys side by senior leader David Haywood.

&uot;We have the chance to be a better team this year, which means working together more. If we can keep our composure there’s no telling what level of success our team can have.&uot;

Even though both teams have set ambitious goals, their first test would come against a pesky Port Gibson team that brought some size to Adams County.

In the first contest, the Lady Bulldogs tightened the screws defensively, as the Blue Waves did not score their first field goal until 14 minutes into the game.

As Port Gibson sputtered, the Lady Bulldogs were lead by West and Crystal Sylvester to open a 17-2 first half bulge.

The second frame featured more offensive woes as both teams went scoreless for the first seven minutes. West broke the scoring drought. She hit helped her team to a 21-9 lead at the break.

Jones would score all of her 9 points in the second half as both teams substituted freely.

Sylvester finished with 12 points.

For the boys, the scoring punch of Newborne and Haywood created a nice 27-12 first-quarter cushion for the hosts.

However, the Blue Waves hung around keeping the lead under 15 points for most of the first half.

As the second half began, the rout was on as a Jovon Edwards’ 3-point play had his team up 51-28 with 6:48 in the third quarter.

But the deep third-quarter hole was too much for a courageous Blue Wave rally led by Leroy Ward and Malkea Byrd.

The upset-minded visitors had reduced a 21 point deficit to only nine points at 64-55 with 3:22 to play.

Before the home crowd had a chance to squirm Jamal Bouldin answered the challenge with a three-point basket to crush the rally and secure the win.

Ward finished with 16 points and Byrd 14 for Port Gibson.

Both Bulldog teams will be tested by a visit from district foe Jackson Provine Tuesday.

The Rams will bring their high-powered offense to town Tuesday.