The smile lights up the gym. Marcus Sims dribbles the basketball to the corner of the court and launches a 3-pointer. He moves to greet a visitor before returning to the court to join Anthony Sharp in an impromptu game of one-on-one.
JACKSON -- The Mississippi State men's basketball team proved Thursday night in the state capital that size matters. Against a scrappy opponent in its annual trip to the Mississippi Coliseum, No. 18 MSU used its significant height and physical advantage to cruise to a 82-67 victory against Northwestern State.
ABERDEEN -- Chris Duncan has fully served his year -- and then some. What began as a one-year commitment to coach the Aberdeen High School football team has turned into a five-year gig. In that time, Duncan has helped re-build a program that won one game in the two previous seasons and has elevated it into a perennial state title contender.
MABEN -- Von Smith thought he could handle playing quarterback. It was just a matter of proving to others he could to the job. So after starting his youth football career as a wide receiver, Smith graduated to quarterback when he moved up to middle school ball. It didn't take him long to find his niche.
ABERDEEN -- Channing Ward is used to the attention. Ever since Ward arrived at Aberdeen High School, he attracted the interest of numerous colleges that fell in love with his potential at a variety of positions. This season, Ward played expanded roles on offense and defense in an attempt to help the Bulldogs make a run at a third-straight trip to Jackson, the site of the state title games.
STARKVILLE -- Baker Swedenburg earned a title this month that is a source of pride. It isn't All-American, All-Southeastern Conference or starting Division I punter. Swedenburg, a third-year sophomore punter, is a graduate of Mississippi State. He was one of eight members of the MSU football team who recently received his bachelor's degree.
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State men's basketball team's annual contest in the state's capital will be a homecoming for three players. No. 18 MSU (11-1) will hope to win its ninth straight game at Memorial Coliseum under coach Rick Stansbury when it takes on Northwestern State (7-5) at 7 tonight.
REFORM, Ala. -- Pickens County High School football coach Patrick Plott hopes he is home for good. In his first season in his second stint as coach of the PCHS football team, Plott led the Tornadoes to an 11-2 record and a second-place finish in Class 1A, Region 4. The season ended with a 38-36 loss at defending state champion Sweet Water in the third round of the playoffs.
REFORM, Ala. -- Time away from the sport taught Pickens County High School senior running back De'Marko Hall how much the game of football means to him. After missing his ninth and 10th grade years due to discipline issues, Hall returned to the field with a vengeance. This season, Hall ran for more than 1,400 yards, topped 1,200 yards receiving, and scored 43 all-purpose touchdowns. The touchdown total was 15 better than the previous school record.
ALICEVILLE, Ala. -- Aliceville High School senior middle linebacker Terry Mayhew admits he once was "an angry person." Mayhew credits new Aliceville coach Charles Moody with being the influence that helped him channel his emotion and energy and mature into a fine young man.
STARKVILLE -- Tyler Russell is learning how to play with pain in preparation for the 2011 Music City Bowl. Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen confirmed Monday that Russell has a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee and is expected to play against Wake Forest at 5:40 p.m. Dec. 30 (ESPN) in Nashville, Tenn.
STARKVILLE -- A year ago, Wheeler Richardson found her voice as a leader of the Starkville High School volleyball team. Richardson also continued her do-everything role for the Lady Yellow Jackets, moving from setting to digging to hitting without missing a beat. But what Richardson did last season was easy compared to the responsibilities she had to juggle this season.
The New Hope High School girls basketball team will carry a lot of momentum into its Christmas holiday break. However, the Lady Trojans won't carry a winning streak with them. Behind a 30-point night from senior guard Tynesha Mickens, Noxubee County erased a six-point fourth-quarter deficit to earn a 48-44 victory Tuesday night and hand New Hope its first defeat of the season. In the nightcap, New Hope salvaged the split as the boys posted a 64-60 victory.
STARKVILLE -- Former West Lowndes High School basketball coach Herman Peters is excited about his new vocation. Peters assumed his duties as sports program coordinator for the city of Starkville Parks and Recreation Department earlier this month. He is pleased because of the unique opportunity this new job allows to embrace his passion of basketball.
OXFORD -- Despite an offer to remain at the University of Mississippi, associate head coach Gunter Brewer has decided to leave the school and to try to get a job as coach at another school.
STARKVILLE -- Despite strong objections by Mississippi State, the NCAA released the rationale for its suspension of forward Kristers Zeidaks for this season and 11 games next season. NCAA Eligibility Center ruled Nov. 3, Zeidaks, who is from Latvia, will be suspended for this season and 11 games next season for participating in a league that saw him play with and against professional players in his home country.
STARKVILLE -- Every Southeastern Conference baseball coach had the same question earlier this year when the NCAA tournament selection show ended: "Where's LSU?" LSU finished 36-20 (13-17 in the SEC) and 26th in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), but didn't receive an invitation in large part for failing to make the conference tournament.
OXFORD -- Hugh Freeze has spent his first weeks as the University of Mississippi's football coach playing catch-up, constantly on the road or on the phone trying to convince prospects to give the Rebels a chance. He said it has been encouraging experience. It also has been a humbling one.
STARKVILLE -- Ashley Brown has earned a reputation as a rebounder. In her second year with the program, the 5-foot-11 transfer from Jefferson College (Mo.) has shown a nose for the ball and a willingness to mix it up in the paint like no other member of the Mississippi State women's basketball team. When given a chance, Brown also can make an impact in the scoring column.
It's one thing to be poised when you have an experienced group of teammates behind you. A pitcher can relax a little be more and trust her teammates are going to make the plays behind her and get the team out of sticky situations. It's another thing to maintain a even keel when your team has lost three All-Area players.
1. Columbus boys beat Callaway HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Piper realizes life-long dream in athletics at MSU COLLEGE SPORTS
3. SEC women's basketball squads off to strong starts COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Bell, Bulldogs ready for Egg Bowl battle COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Starkville High ready for North State championship game HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS