Natchez High boys capture title

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 20, 2000

Natchez High’s boys will host a South State 5A first round playoff contest for the first time since 1995 after defeating Jim Hill 80-65 and capturing the Division 8-5A championship here Friday.

&uot;We just had to have it,&uot; said Natchez center Carl Minor. &uot;We came out and played hard because we wanted the championship.&uot;

Natchez will host Gulfport Tuesday at 7 p.m. in a first-round South State game. Gulfport lost to Harrison Central 80-68 in the finals of the Division 8-5A.

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The winner advances to the South State Tournament at Harrison Central.

Jim Hill jumped ahead of Natchez 10-4 in the first four minutes of the game.

A 3-pointer by David Haywood, followed by a 3-point play by the Bulldog captain cutting across the lane, gave Natchez a 12-10 lead.

Haywood hit a 3-point shot at the buzzer to tie the game 17-17 at the end of the first period.

Haywood scored 11 of his 35 points in the opening period after a sub-par performance in the Bulldogs’ win over Forest Hill Tuesday in which he scored 12 points.

&uot;I knew I had to play better than&160;I did Tuesday in order for us to win,&uot; Haywood said. &uot;We knew Jim Hill was coming in ready to play. We wanted this one bad.&uot;

Travis Nealy came off the bench to give the Bulldogs a boost in the second quarter, grabbing three rebounds and connecting on two free throws to put Natchez up 24-17.

&uot;I just came in with a lot of intensity,&uot; Nealy said. &uot;I knew we had to hit the boards and they would be going after it. We just played hard.&uot;

Natchez grabbed its biggest lead at 35-24 on two free throws by Jamal Bouldin. The Bulldogs led 35-26 at halftime.

Haywood scored Natchez’s first 11 points of the third period as Natchez led 46-34.

Jovon Edwards scored the Bulldogs’ final two baskets of the third period to give Natchez a 56-41 lead going into the final period.

&uot;I just wanted to come in and do my job,&uot; said Edwards, who finished with a season-high 15 points. &uot;I was feeling it tonight. We all had a good night. It was a team effort. Everybody played together.&uot;

Minor put Natchez up 58-41 early in the fourth quarter, but 3-point shots by Jim Hill’s Harold Martin and Korey Moore brought the Tigers back within 58-47 with 6:10 remaining.

An Edwards basket and free throw gave Natchez a 61-50 lead and Haywood added a field goal for a 13-point advantage.

Jim Hill would battle back, closing within 67-59 with 3:35 to play.

Following a Bouldin basket, Moore hit a field goal and Darryl Wilson added two free throws as the Tigers trailed 69-63 with 2:11 left.

Natchez’s Edwin Harris hit two free throws and Vasshun Newborne added two more for a 73-63 Bulldog lead with 1:16 remaining.

Natchez hit five free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

Bouldin added 12 for Natchez.

The Tigers were led by Moore with 24 points. No other Tiger scored in double figures.

Newborne, Bouldin and Haywood were named to the All-Division team, along with Mario Jointer and Martin of Jim Hill.