STARKVILLE — Diamber Johnson was ready for a different role this season. After playing a larger than expected role as a freshman last season, Johnson knew the return of senior guard Marneshia Richard was going to change things. Johnson realized she probably was going to see fewer minutes, but Richard’s return also was going to give her a chance to earn some valuable on-the-job training in practice against an experienced guard. But point guards always have to be ready because circumstances can change in an instant.
Women’s basketball fans can rejoice. ESPN and its family of networks will kick off a schedule of 250 women’s basketball games at 4 p.m. today (ESPN2) when Baylor plays at Tennessee in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic. The game will be the first of a season filled with women’s basketball on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN360.com and ESPN Full Court. The schedule will be the biggest ever by the family of networks.
STARKVILLE –– Mississippi State tailback Anthony Dixon might want to consider wearing extra padding Saturday. It’s not because he will face the University of Alabama defense, but it’s because of teammate Patrick Hanrahan. Dixon could find running against the No. 3 Crimson Tide to be tough at 6 p.m. Saturday (ESPN) when the teams meet in a Southeastern Conference Western Division game. He also better be ready to face a pumped up Hanrahan during the game.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State men’s basketball coach Rick Stansbury hopes junior forward Kodi Augustus stays hungry. Augustus started the first nine games last season before hitting a stretch where he didn’t play in 11 games due to a coaching decision. During that time, Stansbury was trying to get Augustus to understand the importance of defense. Augustus started to grasp what Stansbury wanted and his playing time increased late in the season. He averaged 9.8 points and three rebounds per game and hit 6 of 12 3-pointers to help the Bulldogs win the Southeastern Conference tournament. He then had nine points and eight rebounds in a loss to the University of Washington in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State women’s basketball coach Sharon Fanning-Otis hopes to see a lot of smiles from Rima Kalonda this season. If that’s the case, Fanning-Otis and the Lady Bulldogs will know the senior is feeling fine and is doing her best to contribute. The 6-foot-3 senior center got off to a good start Sunday when she had 15 points, seven rebounds, and six blocked shots in a 106-34 victory against Division II Arkansas-Monticello in an exhibition game at Humphrey Coliseum.
STARKVILLE — Offensive lineman Jarrod Atterberry likes the future of Starkville High School football. That doesn’t mean he’s ready for this season to end. Atterberry believes the Yellow Jackets have momentum going into the Class 6A playoffs after defeating Columbus High 29-28 this past Friday.
Ever since the start of practice in August, the Green Wave have been focused on winning a state title. The championship would be the program’s first since 2005, and it would give seniors like Xavier Hogan and Jeremy Cannon a chance to leave a permanent mark — not one left in magic marker — on the program. Hogan, Cannon, and the rest of the Green Wave will begin that journey at 7 tonight when they play host to Canton (4-7) in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North Half State playoffs.
ABERDEEN — A 100-plus yard effort last week wasn’t what Victor Hodges expected. It’s not that the Aberdeen High School junior is hard on himself, it’s just that he knows an “OK” effort isn’t going to help get the job done at playoff time. “I could have had two touchdowns, but I tripped on one,” Hodges said. Hodges will try to help Aberdeen (10-2) push its winning streak to 10 at 7 tonight when it plays at Ripley (6-5) in the second round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 3A North Half State playoffs.
Ahmad Williams might not want to admit it, but his journey from a football novice to starter on the New Hope High School football team makes for a good story. Williams, though, isn’t one to boast about his accomplishments, and he is currently writing a book about a battle in a fantasy world, so it will be a while before he takes the time to tell his story in his words.
MACON — Patrick Patterson and Vincent Sanders have attracted a lot of attention the past two seasons. A lot of publicity about the Noxubee County High School football team has accompanied the attention the standout wide receivers have generated.
The wait was worth it for the Victory Christian football team. In a season that even on its final day nothing seemed to go according to plan, the Eagles took care of business like they thought they would.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State freshman guard Shaun Smith continues to have problems with a sore hip and won’t be available when the men’s basketball team opens its season at 8 p.m. Friday against Rider University.
A year ago, the Tanner High School football team knocked the Lamar County Bulldogs out of the state playoffs. Lamar County will get a chance to avenge that setback Friday when it meets Tanner in a playoff rematch.
Daryl Jones likes basketball. As a coach at Callaway High School in Jackson, Jones is in a perfect spot. Last year, Callaway beat Forest Hill for the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A state title. The Chargers then went on to beat Hinds AHS for the MHSAA/EnviroTurf Grand Slam Championship. The title added the Jackson area’s reputation as the hotbed for basketball talent. Jones’ job is to duplicate that success — as the school’s football coach.
MABEN -- Coach Jimmy Carden has had the privilege of coaching several O’Briants at East Webster High School, but said Demetrius might be the toughest. Carden said all of them have brought something extra to the table while playing for the Wolverines, but Demetrius, a junior running back, doesn’t let his size (5-foot-11, 150 pounds) bother him. “He’s not a big guy, but has a lot of heart,” Carden said. “He’s pretty much fearless and doesn’t mind sticking his nose in there and getting after it.”
West Lowndes High School boys basketball coach Herman Peters saw a determined look in the eyes of his players on Tuesday. Peters knew it would be a tall task for Class 2A West Lowndes to knock off Class 6A Columbus on its court, but in this matchup size didn’t matter. Peters said the Panthers may not have much height, but they have plenty of heart and that led to a 58-51 victory.
Jameika Hoskins liked the view from the bench Tuesday night. Opponents of the Aberdeen High School girls basketball team shouldn’t be comforted, though, because Hoskins doesn’t figure to spend much time there this season. The senior forward had a seat on the sidelines because she was recovering from flu-like symptoms and first-year coach Latorrence Bivens wanted to give her time to recover. The Lady Bulldogs didn’t miss a beat without Hoskins and starters Michelle Stewart and Dayana McGee thanks to the play of Janee Hodges and Regina Barker
Kendall Jackson is getting a second chance to play basketball. . Jackson is a freshman on the men’s basketball team at East Central Community College in Decatur after missing his senior season at Columbus High School due to an injury. Jackson suffered a stress fracture in his leg while competing in the triple jump at the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State Track Meet as a junior at Columbus High. He vividly remembers suffering the injury Sept. 25, 2008, because it was his mother’s birthday.
The soccer options offered by the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority continue to grow. The success of the CLRA’s Columbus United, a competitive Division II soccer club, has motivated the authority to introduce an Under-8 Developmental Program that will help prepare players for the transition to U-10 play. The primary goal of the program is to offer players enhanced skill training and challenging conditioning to help prepare them for the move to the next level.
SCOOBA — The helmet is far from pristine. The red outline of a Lion on the side is intact, but the gouges on the top of the white helmet cry out for a paint job — or a break from the action. But there aren’t any breaks when it comes to protecting a quarterback like Randall Mackey.
1. Bulldogs turn attention to UAB COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Player of Week: Davis, Starkville off to fast start HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Heritage Academy looks to build on first win HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS