Meridian Girls

Photo by Keith Warren/MHSAA.

JACKSON — The fifth time was the charm for Meridian.

Behind the play of Mississippi State signee Debreasha Powe in the fourth quarter the Lady Wildcats held on to beat Harrison Central 49-43 to claim the MHSAA Girls Class 6A State Championship on Saturday night at the Mississippi Coliseum.

It’s the Lady Wildcats (27-3) first state title in school history. Meridian was 0-4 in state title games prior to Saturday night.

“It feels great. We’ve been here three years in a row and the last two years didn’t go well. This is obviously big for us,” said Meridian coach Deneshia Faulkner. “The girls followed the game plan to almost perfection and I cannot be more proud of them.”

Meridian opened the game with a 10-5 lead, however Harrison Central ended the first quarter on a 10-4 run to take a slim 15-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Meridian opened the second quarter on a quick 5-0 run to take a 19-15 lead and held onto a slim 24-22 lead at halftime.

The third quarter was a defensive struggle with points teams scoring six points each and the Lady Wildcats holding a 30-28 lead to heading to the fourth quarter.

In the fourth is when Powe took over.

Powe scored Meridian’s first eight points in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 38-33.

After Harrison Central cut the lead down to three points at 40-37, Meridian’s Charity Hinton hit a three-pointer with 2:43 left to give the Lady Wildcats a 43-37 lead.

Harrison Central’s Anaisha Carriere hit a three-pointer to cut the Meridian lead down to 43-40.

Powe hit a pair of free throws with 1:22 remaining to extend the Lady Wildcat lead to 45-40.

Hinton followed with a pair of free throws with 47 seconds left to give Meridian a 47-40 lead and seal the game.

“Debreasha had to live up her name and she did that in the fouth quarter,” Faulkner said. “We knew they had the height advantage, we just had to take advantage of the mismatches and speed and we did that.”

Powe finished with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead Meridian and was named the game’s most valuable player.

“It was tight game, and I knew just had to step up for my team,” Powe said. “I can’t explain how excited I am. We’ve been here three years in a row, and I knew it was our time.”

Hinton added 14 points for Meridian.

Laila Walker had 12 points to lead Harrison Central, while Hayleigh Breland added 10 points for the Red Rebelettes.

“Tonight they were just a better team than us,” said Harrison Central coach Nancy Ladner. “I’m proud of the girls for the way they battled, and things just didn’t go our way.”