WESSON – Those who made their way to Mullen Gymnasium on Friday night to watch the Copiah-Lincoln Wolves host the Mississippi Gulf Coast Bulldogs in MACJC men’s basketball action saw a game that will be talked about for a long time.
The Wolves (8-9, 4-4) lost, 78-76 in overtime, but that’s only part of the story. Six Wolves were dismissed from the team for violation of team rules and school policy, leaving only five players dressed out for the game. Sophomores Michael Vardaman, Corey Cox and Terrence James, and freshmen LaJustin Anderson and Terry Morris would play the entire game without a substitution. They did so against a Bulldog (14-3, 7-1 South Division) team that has been one of the strongest in the state.
Head coach Kenny Bizot and assistant coach Justin Henley had their team switching zone defenses throughout the night and luring the Bulldogs into playing a slowed down pace of basketball. The plan worked brilliantly, and when Vardaman made a floater in the lane at the halftime buzzer, pulling the Wolves to with one, 38-37.
It looked like the Wolves would pull off the upset late in regulation when Anderson gave the Wolves a 73-71 lead with 59 seconds left. The game had been rescheduled from Thursday night due to the wintery weather previously in the week. That meant that the crowd, due to a lack of students on campus, was small, but they were loud as the Bulldogs tried for the game tying shot. Sophomore forward Roger Woods, a Southeastern Louisiana University transfer, would silence the crowd with his layup to tie the game at 73-all with 40 seconds left and that would send the game to a five-minute overtime period.
The Wolves struck first in overtime when Cox nailed a three pointer from the deep corner after a mad scramble for an offensive rebound. The Bulldogs would come right back and respond when Rashad Perkins hit a three to tie the game at 76. The final score of the game would come on a slashing lay up from Woods as the buzzer sounded. It appeared that the Co-Lin defender, James, drew a charge on the play after getting run over by Woods, but a no call by the referee standing inches from the play, gave the Bulldogs a two-point win in overtime.
Vardaman, a 6-foot guard, led the Wolves with 25 points and eight rebounds. Anderson scored 20 and Cox went 5-for-8 from the 3-point line for 18 points.
Woods led Gulf Coast with 24 points.
To read about the ladies’ team, see the Copiah County Courier, sold throughout Copiah County.