CALEDONIA — Ricky Ford covets versatility. Ford’s Northeast Mississippi Community College women’s basketball program loves to use a full-court pressing style of play. To do that, the veteran coach needs players who can play a variety of roles and are equally comfortable facing and with their backs to the basket. Suriah Blanch fits that mold, which is why she will take her game to Booneville in the fall. On Friday, the Caledonia High School senior forward celebrated her decision to sign a national letter of intent to play basketball at NEMCC.
EL PASO, Texas — University of Texas at El Paso men’s basketball coach Tim Floyd continued Thursday to add to his first recruiting class at the school by announcing the signing of center Rashanti Harris. The 6-foot-8, 240-pound Harris is regarded as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com. He was rated the No. 15 player in the country by HoopScoop, No. 17 by Scout.com, No. 26 by Rivals.com, and No. 37 by ESPN following a dominant prep career at New Hope High School. Scout.com also regarded Harris as the No. 2 center in the Class of 2008. Harris averaged 19.7 points, 15 rebounds, and 4.5 blocked shots as a senior, shooting 65 percent from the field. He was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Mississippi after leading New Hope High School to the 2008 Class 4A state title.
STARKVILLE — With three chances lost at Alabama, the Mississippi State baseball team hopes to avoid another disappointing weekend against a division opponent and claw back into the race for a Southeastern Conference tournament spot. Last weekend’s rain-affected series against the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Ala., saw the Bulldogs squander leads with single-inning meltdowns. The Bulldogs had a seven-run lead evaporate in Game 2 before losing a 4-1 lead in Game 3. Mississippi State coach John Cohen admits the team is frustrated with the nature of the losses, but as he explained Thursday, the Bulldogs (20-20, 5-13 SEC) have gone through the growing pains of playing the most freshmen in the conference.
HAMILTON –– Hamilton High School senior pitcher Dylan Earnest may not have been as sharp as usual and the opponent may not have been as rugged as those found in Northeast Mississippi. But as Hamilton coach Lewis Earnest said, “It doesn’t matter who it’s against, a perfect game is a perfect game.” Earnest (9-0), who had a perfect game this past summer in Senior American Legion play and then another flawless outing earlier this month against Class 2A, Division 2 foe Calhoun City, was perfect again here Thursday evening as the Lions rolled to a 17-0, five-inning win against Shelby Broad Street in the first game of the Class 2A state baseball playoffs.
MADISON — The Madison Central baseball team scored 11 runs in two innings and had a mammoth day at the plate Thursday to beat Starkville 16-6 to open the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A state playoffs. Madison Central leadoff hitter Josh Crowder ended the game with a two-run, walk-off homer in the fifth inning to give the Jaguars a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. Starkville used four pitchers, walking nine batters against one of the best lineups in the state.
Routine equals success. Whether it means taking hundreds of groundballs or swinging several hundred more times in the batting cage, baseball players use repetition to perfect their technique. Philip Tice and Brent Younger grew up following those practices. In the field, Tice grew accustomed to the angles and throws he had to make from second base, while Younger learned how to range to both sides and how to play the variety of hops a shortstop sees every game. But Tice and Younger learned change is just as big a part of athletics as routine.
Empress Shirley was tempted. Even though she had practiced and played softball for years, there was a voice inside Shirley’s head that told her it might be a good idea to quit the New Hope High School softball program. After all, Shirley would have more time to spend with some of her friends. She also would have more time to find a job or simply hang out and relax and enjoy her senior year. The Lady Trojans are glad Shirley didn’t give in to temptation.
CALEDONIA — Jelisha Hackman has lofty goals this season. The Caledonia High School junior wants to crack 36 feet in the triple jump. She also wants to help the school’s 4x400-meter relay team advance to the Class 4A state meet next month. But Hackman’s biggest goal likely is breaking the one-minute barrier in the 400. ”I am going to do it before the year is over,” Hackman said. “I am going to get a 58.” Hackman nearly reached the first part of her goal at the District 4 meet at Kosciusko, winning the event with a time of 1 minute, 1 second. Hackman knows that time won’t be good enough if she wants to continue to advance, so she has her sights set on breaking one minute Saturday when Caledonia is scheduled to compete in the regional meet at Mississippi Valley State University. West Lowndes also will compete Saturday at Mississippi Valley State in the Class 2A, Region 2 meet.
Dave Telep has fond memories of Rashanti Harris. In December 2007, Telep, the national recruiting director for Scout.com, watched as Harris, then a senior at New Hope High School, held his own with some of the nation’s top post players at the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla.
STARKVILLE — Danny Carlisle has an interesting approach to the Starkville High School baseball team’s opening-round playoff series against Madison Central. The Jaguars (24-2) play host to the Yellow Jackets (14-7) at 7 tonight in the first game of the best-of-three Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A series.
Mickey Aldridge might only have time to be considered a “weekend fisherman,” but that doesn’t mean he and his peers won’t be competitive this weekend. Aldridge and the rest of the Starkville Bass Club will join fishermen from Columbus, West Point, Aberdeen, Monroe County, and the rest of the state at the Mississippi TBF State Championship Bass Tournament.
Lewis Earnest and Jason Cobb feel their teams are ready to make postseason runs. Those journeys will start a day earlier than expected when the Hamilton High School baseball and fast-pitch softball teams begin play today in the opening rounds of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 2A playoffs. The Hamilton baseball team (16-3) will play host to Broad Street in a doubleheader at 4 p.m., while the softball team (15-8) will play at 6 tonight at East Union.
South Lamar High School baseball coach Lane Wright has seen his team peak at the right time of the season. South Lamar is just 11-17, but has advanced to the third round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class A playoffs by sweeping the first two rounds.
STARKVILLE — This time last year, Jamie Mitchell was leading one of the top football programs in the state. But much like he’s shown with resurrection projects at South Tippah, Olive Branch and Itawamba Agricultural, diving into a new situation yields results. He expects the same at Starkville High School— his latest project and coveted job from 10 years ago.
CARROLLTON, Ala. — The Pickens Academy baseball team put itself in a situation without many options early in the season. Three region losses left the Pirates in danger of missing out on their first goal of the season: Making the playoffs. “The losses rallied the team and we knew we had to win out,” junior pitcher Chase Davidson said. Faced with the prospect of seeing their season end too soon, the Pirates responded to help secure their postseason chances.
When Brent Hallmark struggled with his control as a freshman pitcher at Delta State, he contemplated hanging up his cleats. But Hallmark didn’t give up that easily and has persevered to become a solid late-inning reliever his sophomore season at Delta State. Hallmark, a 2007 graduate of New Hope High School, has found a remedy for his control issues by going to a sidearm delivery as recommended by former Delta State and major league pitcher Matt Miller, and he’s thriving out of the bullpen.
STARKVILLE — Mondays have been newsworthy days for Mississippi State athletics this year. Greg Byrne’s announcement of his decision to leave for the University of Arizona came on a Monday, as did men’s basketball coach Rick Stansbury’s selection to turn down Clemson’s offer to become its new coach remain at MSU. This week, that theme was continued when MSU guards Dee Bost and Ravern Johnson opted enter the NBA draft.
There are plenty of questions surrounding the status of Rashad Perkins. But Chipola College (Fla.) men’s basketball coach Jake Headrick is certain about one thing. The first-year Chipola coach confirmed Monday night that Perkins, The Commercial Dispatch Large Schools Boys Basketball Player of the Year, Mississippi’s Mr. Basketball, and Southern Mississippi signee will play for the junior college for the 2010-11 school year.
CALEDONIA — Jessica Comer is gearing up for a challenge. The Caledonia High School junior plans to be ready.
STARKVILLE –– Anthony Dixon waited longer than he wanted to on the final day of the NFL draft, but the crossed fingers, prayers and nervous energy turned to joy in the sixth round. A life-long San Francisco 49ers fan, Dixon grew up hoping to grace the same field as his favorite player, Jerry Rice, once did. Saturday, San Francisco drafted the Mississippi State record-setter with the 173rd overall pick, bolstering a backfield that already has Pro Bowler Frank Gore and former Alabama running back Glen Coffee.
1. Insell family readies for father-son matchup in Oxford COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Starkville Academy falls in state championship game HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Ole Miss shut out at Arkansas COLLEGE SPORTS
4. MSU Notebook: Holmes making habit of finding end zone COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Starkville defense swarms all over Southaven HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS