CALEDONIA — Things were set up perfectly for the Caledonia High School boys soccer team. A victory in a penalty kick shootout at Amory High last week gave Caledonia the inside track on clinching the Class 4A, Division 3, District 1 title. But Morgan Mansfield has coached long enough to know that nothing in sports is guaranteed. In fact, Mansfield was concerned Monday after a lackluster practice that the Confederates wouldn’t be mentally prepared to deliver the same kind of focused effort they turned in at Amory High.
Ever since playing in his first match at the age of 4, Houston Walker has enjoyed playing soccer. He enjoyed playing in Columbus and Tupelo recreation soccer leagues and for six years as a member of the Columbus High School soccer team. With his high school career nearly completed, Walker will get to continue to play the sport he enjoys next season in college. Walker’s future came into focus Tuesday when he signed a scholarship to play soccer at Itawamba Community College in Fulton.
STARKVILLE -- Shay Bonner made four-of-four free throws in the final 15 seconds as the Starkville High School’s girls basketball team defeated rival West Point 60-53 on Tuesday night. After the Lady Yellow Jackets (13-4) took leads of 12-10 after the first quarter and 24-21 at halftime, the Lady Green Wave wrestled the advantage away to their favor at 40-39 after the third quarter. Bonner (12 points) made a basket with 1 minute and 20 seconds remaining in the game to break a 51-51 tie and then she made the free throws at the end to ice it.
Having the last name of Favre carries a great deal of weight in the football world. It’s a unique name that became very well known when Brett Favre, a quarterback from Kiln in south Mississippi, emerged as a Pro Bowler and Super Bowl winner for the Green Bay Packers. Brett’s career continued Sunday as a member of the Minnesota Vikings, who beat the Dallas Cowboys 34-3 to earn a spot in the National Football Conference championship game. Another quarterback in south Mississippi with the last name of Favre is looking to make name for himself.
The Mississippi State men’s basketball team received two pieces of good news Monday. After bolting to a 3-0 start in Southeastern Conference play to lead the Western Division and winning 12 of its last 13 games, MSU is back in the Associated Press Top 25 at No. 23. Senior center Jarvis Varnado also was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week
STARKVILLE — Assists are just as good as goals to Frankie Jones. If pushed to give a preference, Jones isn’t going to deny he enjoys scoring goals a little bit more. But you wouldn’t know it by Jones’ performance so far this season. The Starkville Academy senior forward/midfielder notched four goals and four assists to help the Volunteers close the week with victories against Heritage Academy and Magnolia Heights. Jones’ efforts helped Starkville Academy improve to 7-0 on the season. For his accomplishments, Jones is The Commercial Dispatch Prep Player of the Week.
Weekend anglers can get caught up in the all the sales hype when it comes to buying fishing line. Each manufacturer has many different types, colors and sizes of line. Most are designed for a specific purpose and a few, in my opinion, I consider hype. Fishing line was first made in the early 1900s out of a combination of linen, cotton and silk. In reading I found out that the line had to be un-spooled and laid out on a flat surface to dry or it would rot.
STARKVILLE — Amanda Butler didn’t think it would last. When Fox Sports Net analyst Carol Ross asked Butler at halftime what her University of Florida women’s basketball team would have to do in the second half to maintain its three-point lead against Mississippi State, Butler said the Lady Gators would have to step up their defense. Butler’s thinking was simple: MSU has been a second-half team and the odds were Alexis Rack and the rest of the Lady Bulldogs weren’t going to shoot as poorly in the second half
Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen has stressed the importance of in-state recruiting ever since he took the job more than one year ago. Two recruiting experts have given Mullen and the Bulldogs a thumbs up in that regard. Yancy Porter of Scout.com and Barton Simmons of Rivals.com agree that MSU has the upper hand in the state when it comes to getting Mississippi talent.
Mississippi State’s football program hasn’t noticed any major recruiting backlash with the departures of defensive coordinator Carl Torbush and defensive line coach David Turner in the offseason. Torbush left MSU in December to join Turner Gill’s coaching staff as defensive coordinator at Kansas, while Turner went to the Kentucky to coach the defensive line for Joker Phillips. MSU head coach Dan Mullen announced Saturday that he’s filling the vacancies with former Middle Tennessee State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and Oklahoma defensive line coach Chris Wilson.
STARKVILLE — Manny Diaz and Chris Wilson know people don’t want to play against coach Dan Mullen’s offense. In time, Diaz and Wilson hope opponents say the same thing about facing Mississippi State’s defense. On Saturday, it became the job of Diaz and Wilson to remake the Bulldogs’ defense into one of the nation’s top units. Mullen officially introduced Diaz and Wilson as his assistant coaches at halftime of the Georgia-MSU men’s basketball game. The moves are pending approval from the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.
STARKVILLE — Phil Turner knew it was going to take more than a smile and a prayer to beat Georgia. So after erasing one double-digit deficit only to see the University of Georgia rebuild its cushion in the second half, the Mississippi State junior guard realized something more needed to be done. Turner was only happy to oblige. The energy and thievery Turner provided in a pressure defense in the final 5 minutes, 13 seconds proved to be contagious Saturday and helped MSU recover for an 82-79 victory against Georgia before a crowd of 7,682 at Humphrey Coliseum.
STARKVILLE — Chanel Mokango hopes to find the energy again today. On Thursday, the 6-foot-5 senior center had one of her best games of the season to help lift the Mississippi State women’s basketball team to an impressive victory at the University of Arkansas. At 2 p.m. today, Mokango will try to deliver a repeat performance when MSU (12-5, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) plays host to Florida (9-8, 2-2) at Humphrey Coliseum.
Defense is the engine that drives the New Hope High School boys basketball team. Former coach Robert Byrd helped perfect the formula of in-your-jersey pressure and relentless effort. Those ingredients ultimately paid off for Rashanti Harris, Dale Hughes and the rest of the Trojans in a Class 4A state title in 2008. The Trojans showcased those same skills last season. An undersized and inexperienced team used grit and resolve to rack up a 25-6 record before it lost to eventual Class 4A state champion Callaway in the third-place game of the North Half State tournament in Jackson.
The district race in one half of Class 5A, Region 2, District 1 got a little closer Friday night. Junior Kelsei Ewings scored a game-high 27 points to lead a three-pronged attack that helped the West Point High School girls basketball team beat New Hope 66-58 in Columbus. In the boys game, Johnathan Brandon had a game-high 21 points to lead New Hope to a 53-45 victory.
A talented class of senior baseball players at New Hope High School made its first mark on the college game Friday afternoon. East Mississippi Community College’s Tony Montgomery and Wallace State College’s Randy Putnam hope to be the beneficiaries. Montgomery signed infielder Philip Tice and pitcher/catcher Jake Upton to scholarships, while Putnam added pitcher/outfielder Jake Smith to the fold for the 2010-11 season.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School’s Alvaro Pichardo couldn’t wait to get back onto the soccer field after losing to Tupelo High last week. Starkville’s 3-1 loss to the Golden Wave in a Class 6A, Division 2 match left a bad taste in Pichardo’s mouth. On Friday night, Pichardo took out his frustration on Columbus High School’s boys soccer team. Pichardo scored the first and the last goal for the Yellow Jackets and had three total in a 7-1 victory.
ABERDEEN — The Aberdeen High School Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs and West Point Lady Green Wave and Okolona Chieftains posted first-round wins Thursday to advance to Saturday’s championship games of the Aberdeen Invitational Tournament. Aberdeen’s boys slipped past West Point 57-53 in the closest contest of the opening round, while the Lady Bulldogs beat West Lowndes 71-48 to assure the host teams a spot in the championship games. The West Point girls grabbed a spot opposite Aberdeen in the finals by beating Okolona 72-38, and Okolona’s boys will face the Bulldogs in the boys’ final by virtue of an 80-57 win against West Lowndes.
STARKVILLE — The best. The mere inclusion of definites in a statement about any player’s abilities speaks volumes. In his fourth year at Mississippi State, Jarvis Varnado has impacted college basketball games like nearly no other. On Thursday night, the senior center added a new weapon to his already impressive array of talents.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The Mississippi State women’s basketball team began the second half on a 23-10 run Thursday to pull away and beat Arkansas 78-60 at Bud Walton Arena. Mississippi State (12-5, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) won for just the third time at Bud Walton Arena, but for the second time in three years. It is the fourth time in school history for the Lady Bulldogs to start 3-1 in SEC play.
2. Baseball Bulldogs hit road for major weekend COLLEGE SPORTS
3. MSU softball faces No. 8 Kentucky for weekend series COLLEGE SPORTS
4. MSU, Alabama, Ole Miss women fall in SEC Tournament COLLEGE SPORTS