And then there were five. Only the most optimistic fan would have had the Mississippi State women's basketball team 14-0 and ranked No. 19 in The Associated Press and the USA Today Top 25 polls.
MACON -- Jeffery Simmons was looking for only one. Minutes after the Noxubee County High School football team defeated St. Stanislaus 48-27 to win the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A state title, the junior defensive lineman was surrounded by a three reporters.
MACON -- Tyrone Shorter fits the description of a Type A personality. From cutting the grass on the Noxubee County High School football field, to marking the numbers on the field for a home game, to preparing the right mixture of Gatorade and water, Shorter has grown accustomed to doing things his way. His thinking fits that of many Type A people who believe if they do it, the task will be done the way they want it.
If you didn't know any better, you would think silent assassin would be an ideal nickname for Demyis Mayberry. After all, the New Hope High School senior eschews trash talking. He prefers to let his silky-smooth game do the talking for him. New Hope High coach Drew McBrayer knows that all too well.
The Dispatch's Large Schools All-Area Football team
WEST POINT -- This time, Ecurb Forest brought a friend. In the West Point High School boys basketball team's first meeting against Houston on Dec. 16, Forest scored a career-high 18 points in an easy victory. In Saturday night's finale of the West Point Holiday Invitational, the Green Wave again won easily, this time behind Forest and guard Dason Thomas, who combined for 39 points in a 73-59 win.
WEST POINT -- For three quarters, it was anything but pretty. For the final eight minutes, though, the West Point High School girls basketball team put on a show. In doing so, it escaped with a 66-54 victory against Houston on Saturday night in the West Point Holiday Invitational.
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.
The Dispatch's Top 10 Prep Sports Stories of 2014
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.
STARKVILLE -- Basketball fans saw Saturday night what Starkville High School boys basketball coach Greg Carter has been seeing from Jesse Little every day in practice. Little, a 6-foot-9 sophomore center, scored 14 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in a 52-33 victory against Restoration (Ala.) High in the final game of the Travis Outlaw Slam Dunk at the Hump at Mississippi State's Humphrey Coliseum.
STARKVILLE -- Harrison Central girls basketball coach Nancy Ladner felt like her team's game against Starkville on Friday could swing in its direction with a little more attention to detail.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School sophomore center Kelsey Jones admits she didn't know what to expect when the girls basketball team started practice for this season without Blair Schaefer and Imane Montgomery.
STARKVILLE -- Rick Ray's family can now breathe easier. So can Mississippi State's third-year men's basketball coach. On the heels of a five-game losing streak, MSU enjoyed its best shooting performance of the season Tuesday night and limited Jacksonville to 28-percent shooting from the field in the second half to cruise to a 70-47 win, MSU's first victory this month.
All of the numbers look good to Vic Schaefer. That's why it's easy for the Mississippi State women's basketball coach to make a great choice regardless of whether he picks No. 14 or No. 19. The way Schaefer sees it, No. 19 is the better number because it is a direct reflection of No. 14. "If you're No. 19, you have won all 14 (games)," Schaefer said Tuesday. "To have gotten it in two years and 14 games is pretty incredible."
Sammy Smith can't escape at this time of the year.
The body language is different this season for Shemar Johnson and Terryonte Thomas.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The little boy approached Alabama coach Nick Saban with the directness only a kid can get away with.
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3. Berkery adds former MLB pitcher Oswalt to staff at Starkville Academy HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS