SALTILLO -- New Hope High School boys basketball coach Drew McBrayer surveyed his scorebook before reviewing his team's latest performance Friday night.
New Hope High School girls soccer coach Mary Nagy knew her team had some high expectations this season.
SALTILLO -- New Hope High School senior defender Kayla Smith spent a large majority of Tuesday night's playoff match against Saltillo encouraging her teammates to calm down.
However, when Saltillo's Ashley Harman hit the crossbar on the final shot attempt of a shootout, calmness was no longer necessary.
CALEDONIA -- Caledonia High School sophomore defender Sam Young found himself in a big spot Monday night.
On a senior-laden team, Young and his backline mates were charged with slowing a fast Senatobia attack in the opening round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A North State playoffs.
Much like the teammates who have gone before him, Young was up to the challenge as Caledonia defeated Senatobia 4-1 to advance to the second round for a second-straight season.
WEST POINT -- The New Hope High School boys basketball team started with the simplest of game plans Friday night.
"My game is attacking and getting the ball to the rim," New Hope sophomore guard Terryonte Thomas said. "Our game plan was to get the ball to the goal and draw some fouls. We were really aggressive early, and that helped us get the win."
East Mississippi Community College sophomore running back Preston Baker nailed down his next destination Saturday, verbally committing to play football at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
Madison Central High School senior Leroy Buchanan admits one of his worst offensive performances this season came last month in a Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A, Region 3 home win over Columbus.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville Academy girls basketball coach Glenn Schmidt stressed the importance of the first five minutes of the second half to her team Tuesday night.
In theory, last month's boys basketball game between Lowndes County rivals New Hope and Columbus high schools had little bearing when they met again in the Trojan Holiday Classic.
Columbus junior point guard Tavarest Gray took the opposite approach.
For most football teams, leadership is expected immediately from the quarterback.
For Aberdeen High School, the dynamics made that even more important.
With as many as six sophomores starting some games on offense, the Bulldogs had to rely on the savvy veteran leadership of Josh Williams almost every snap.
For New Hope High School girls basketball coach Laura Lee Holman, the switch came on at practice about two weeks ago.
"The girls are buying in," Holman said. "They know what we can do. A couple of weeks ago, a couple of older players were showing the younger players what to do. There was a buy-in. You could see they were beginning to believe. Once you get the belief, that is a huge step forward."
For the Lady Trojans, the next step is learning how to win.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School sophomore center Kelsey Jones has always enjoyed scoring points.
Now Jones is drawing the same sense of satisfaction from rebounds, blocking out, and getting assists.
As Jones adds more dimensions to her game, the Lady Jackets are quickly becoming a complete team.
The Mississippi State softball team had made significant strides in Vann Stuedeman's first two seasons as head coach.
The Bulldogs had made back-to-back NCAA regional appearances with a scattering of signature wins along the way.
MSU then took its biggest stride to date April 13 when it defeated then-No. 2 Alabama 4-3 in a 10-inning Southeastern Conference thriller at the MSU Softball Field.
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STARKVILLE -- While the Aberdeen High School boys basketball team continues its quest for consistency, first-year coach Jaworski Rankin is pleased the Bulldogs are winning while learning.
"It's about consistency and playing for four quarters," Rankin said. "The players are still learning me and I am learning them. The fact we are showing flashes is a good thing. The kids know where we are and where we can go."
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School senior Brady Davis understands the role of leadership at the quarterback position.
For Davis, the challenge of becoming his team's leader took on an unusual twist this season.
After transferring from New Hope High, Davis was faced with the challenge of learning a new set of coaches, players, and plays. While it proved daunting, the good news for the 6-foot-4, 195-pounder was his new teammates were gifted and his team was one of the best in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A ranks.
For the New Hope High School baseball team, the expectations for the 2014 season were extremely high.
The reward was even greater.
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STARKVILLE -- Any bitterly contested overtime defeat usually leaves a basketball coach lamenting one missed shot on offense or one made basket allowed on defense.
Starkville High School boys basketball coach Greg Carter didn't long for one more shot Friday night. He wanted another rebound.
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