Sammy Smith loves a challenge. That’s part of the reason why he and the rest of the Columbus High School basketball coaches enjoy all of the details that go into playing host to one of the state’s best holiday tournaments.
The University of Kansas introduced Turner Gill as its new football coach Monday. Gill then introduced his two coordinators. One of them — Carl Torbush — couldn’t be there because he hadn’t arrived.
STARKVILLE — Ravern Johnson is picking up his game. The Mississippi State junior guard’s improved play is helping him earn awards. Johnson learned by text message Monday he had been named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week after his performances against DePaul and UCLA.
STARKVILLE — The game was well in hand, but Diamber Johnson knew there was still work to be done. The Mississippi State sophomore point guard handled the basketball as she moved to her left and motioned with her off hand for a teammate to set a screen at the left elbow, foul-line extended.
CARROLLTON, Ala. — Catherine Johnson had double the motivation. First, the 5-foot-7 senior point guard wanted to erase the memory of a 4-of-11 shooting effort from the free-throw line against Central Academy on Friday night.
It appears Carl Torbush’s stint as the defensive coordinator for the Mississippi State football team is over after only one season.
Consider it a lesson learned. Mississippi State women’s basketball coach Sharon Fanning-Otis believes that’s an ideal way to describe her team’s 72-68 victory Saturday at Louisiana Tech.
OXFORD — Jim Foster didn’t have an elaborate explanation. Late in the second half Sunday, the veteran Ohio State women’s basketball coach almost looked resigned to that fact that the University of Mississippi was going to upset his No. 9 Buckeyes. Then something unexpected happened.
STARKVILLE — Dan Mullen believes the foundation has been laid for Mississippi State football program. The former assistant coach at the University of Florida saw many positive signs in his first year as head coach of the Bulldogs, and he plans to build on them in the coming months. Record crowds at Davis Wade Stadium, the accomplishments of senior running back Anthony Dixon, the emergence of young players, and MSU’s season-ending 41-27 victory against the University of Mississippi encouraged Mullen.
CRAWFORD -- East Oktibbeha High School girls basketball coach Randy Brooks has accepted it will be a learning process for his team this season. That’s why a win like the one the Lady Titans got Saturday night put a smile on his face. It was almost not a happy situation. After jumping out to a 20-point lead in the first half of its game against rival West Oktibbeha High School, East Oktibbeha held on for a 52-51 victory.
STARKVILLE -- Tyson Lee remembers seeing the movie “Rudy” and he loved it. Now the Mississippi State quarterback has a chance to win an award named after the film. Lee, of Columbus, has been nominated for the third-annual Rudy Award as announced by The Rudy Foundation. The award honors student-athletes who demonstrate character, courage, contribution and commitment for their teams. Those traits were exhibited by Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger in the movie. Ruettiger was a character who beat all odds to play in a college football game.
William Jones said thanks but no thanks Tuesday to Itawamba Community College. The East Mississippi C.C. associate head coach interviewed for the vacant head football coach job at ICC and was offered the position Monday night. But Jones said Thursday that he and the school couldn’t come to terms that satisfied him, so he declined the offer to become ICC’s new coach.
STARVILLE — Chanel Mokango doesn’t know how many times she has heard the word tough in her short time in Mississippi. How effectively the senior center plays with that kind of spirit, though, likely will have a huge impact on the Mississippi State women’s basketball’s 2009-10 season. So far, the 6-foot-5 center is still working to find the right balance to her game. Mokango and MSU (5-3) will try to take another step closer to their comfort zone at 7 p.m. Saturday when it plays against Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La.
Kayla Melson is making the best of a difficult situation. In the preseason, the University of Mississippi women’s basketball team lost junior guard Alliesha Easley to a season-ending knee injury. The loss of an experienced and versatile player like Easley would have crippled many other teams, but Melson is helping the Rebels make the best out of a trying predicament. Melson, a 5-foot-8 junior guard, is second on the tam in scoring at 11.8 points per game. She also is averaging 4.8 rebounds per game and is second on the team with 40 assists and tied for second with 12 steals.
Immanuel Christian coach Billy Thomas got something more out of a pair of underclassmen during Thursday night’s game against Starkville Christian School. Sophomore Ross Moore had 17 points to lead the Rams and junior Justin James added 12 points to defeat the visiting Cougars 50-44. James had a pair of baskets and two free throws to get the fourth quarter started, then Moore had five-straight points to give Immanuel a 39-35 lead with 4 minutes and 16 minutes remaining in the game.
Nineteen local prep football players and one coach were honored earlier this week when the Mississippi Association of Coaches announced its All-State teams. Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A state champion West Point and Class 3A runner-up Aberdeen led the way with five players recognized. West Point High’s Chris Chambless was chosen MAC Coach of the Year for guiding the Green Wave (14-1) past Wayne County 35-14 on Saturday for the school’s sixth state title.
MACON –– Ferris McGuire poured in a game-high 26 points Thursday night to lead the Central Academy boys basketball team past Russell Christian 53-48. Central Academy (2-4) trailed 33-26 at halftime before outscoring Russell Christian 13-4 in the third quarter and 14-11 in the fourth. McGuire was followed in scoring by Chris Newman with nine points, Cole Newman with six and Rowdy Rigdon with five.
STARKVILLE — Ravern Johnson understands the importance of playing defense. The Mississippi State junior guard never has been afraid to shoot the basketball, but defense hasn’t always come as easily for him. Even though the benefits don’t always show up in the boxscore, Johnson has learned concentrating on defense can make a difference.
STARKVILLE — East Mississippi Community College football coach Buddy Stephens couldn’t help sneaking a peak at the Starkville High School highlight video Wednesday night before sitting down for his meal.
The Pickens Academy boys basketball will have a chance to add a trophy to its school’s display case for the second-consecutive weekend when it plays host to its tournament. Pickens County, which won the Southern Academy Tournament in Greensboro, Ala., last weekend, will play host to the tournament Friday and Saturday.
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4. Heritage Academy's Kerby at home in shot put circle HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS