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CLINTON — After last season, Meridian had some revenge on their minds coming into Saturday's showdown with Olive Branch.

Well, they got it.

In a game that featured a combined 36 turnovers, the Lady Wildcats got past Olive Branch 42-26 in the first annual Girls Rumble In The South at Mississippi College’s A.E. Wood Coliseum on Saturday evening.

Olive Branch beat Meridian twice last season, which made Meridian's win Saturday even more satisfying.

“It was a struggle, we had our ups and downs, but that’s basketball and at the end of the day I’m proud of them,” said Meridian coach Denashia Faulkner. “We played a solid game defensively.”

The Lady Wildcats (18-1) never trailed. Meridian jumped out to a 7-0 lead to begin the game, but held a slim 14-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.

To begin the second quarter, Meridian went on a 7-2 run to extend their lead to 21-11. The Lady Wildcats followed that with a quick 6-0 midway through to extend their lead to 28-13 and held a 28-16 lead at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Lady Wildcats held Olive Branch to just two points and built a 36-18 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Olive Branch went on an 8-0 run to cut the Meridian lead down to 12 points at 38-26. 

“On the offensive end we struggled, but defensively we did a decent job,” Faulkner said. “At the end of the day you have to play defense and have When defense is the heart of the team you’ll be able to live through some of those struggles.”

Mississippi State signee Debreasha Powe finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and had six blocked shots to lead the Lady Wildcats and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

“It was a lot of adversity tonight and I didn’t make a lot of good decisions, but the energy was there as a team and it carried us and pushing us and making us better,” Powe said. “It felt good to come out on top over them finally after they beat us twice last year.”

Tytiana Buckley added 12 points for Meridian.

“This team is hungry, and this team wants more than what last year’s team did. We’ve got nine seniors on this team, so we got one goal in mind,” Faulkner said. “We stayed away from the revenge factor and all that and just stay true to who we are and take it one game at a time.”

Addison Howell had a game-high 16 points to lead Olive Branch, while Rhema Pegues added 10 points for the Lady Conquistadors (14-4).

“We just wanted to come in and compete and play and unfortunately we drove a long way not to do that. We did not play on a high level like we’re capable of today,” said Olive Branch coach Jason Thompson. “Meridian flat out whooped our tail and we’ve got to take it and hopefully see them down the road.”

In other action at Rumble In the South Saturday:

Hartfield Academy 61, Callaway 37
Northwest Rankin 51, Holmes County Central 48
Madison-Ridgeland Academy 58, Noxubee County 29
Madison Central 49, Ridgeland 21

Feature photo by Brandon Shields