LSU coach Trent Johnson can attest to it. Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury is a believer in it, too. Nineteen games into the season, it looks like the University of Alabama men’s basketball team has bought into coach Anthony Grant’s defensive mind-set. The Crimson Tide showcased their stinginess Saturday, holding No. 23 Mississippi State to 31.7 percent shooting from the field in a 62-57 victory at Coleman Coliseum.
Dale Hughes is accustomed to being a leader on the basketball court as a sophomore. He was put into that role as one of three sophomore starters at New Hope High School. He’s in that role again as a sophomore at Florida A&M in Tallahassee, Fla. The 6-foot-2 shooting guard views himself as a leader of a young team that includes five freshmen and three sophomores. There’s just one senior and three juniors.
A one-goal lead is the most dangerous advantage a team can have. The worst fear for coaches is the cushion can lead to a false sense of security and give the opposing team momentum to rally. The New Hope High School boys soccer team nearly made that adage come true Tuesday night. The Trojans used a penalty kick by Tanner Ryals late in the second half to tie Callaway, only to see the Chargers score the game-winner minutes later to steal a 2-1 victory in their Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A first-round North Half State playoff game at Trojan Field.
The New Hope High School boys soccer team wants to keep its historic season going. To do that, the Trojans will have to protect their home field at 5:30 p.m. today when they play host to Callaway in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North Half State playoffs.
Some players have a knack for making a difference on one end of the field. Whether it is with blazing speed or a deft touch, forwards and midfielders can wreak havoc on defenses. But defenders who have those skills often don’t attract the same accolades. Their satisfaction comes from the final zero on the scoreboard.
STARKVILLE — The time to find solutions is running out. Two-game losing streaks in January don’t ruin a season’s worth of work. But when your ultimate goal is to get back to the NCAA tournament, losing skids at this time of the season can be devastating. The Mississippi State women’s basketball team is in danger of allowing back-to-back losses to become something greater. The Lady Bulldogs (12-7, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) will try to prevent that from happening at 2 p.m. today when they play at Vanderbilt (14-5, 3-3).
STARKVILLE — All the Starkville High School basketball teams need is energy and a little patience. The boys and girls teams showed Friday just how important intensity and effort will be to the rest of their seasons in two drastically different results. In the boys game, the Yellow Jackets had revenge as their motivation, and they didn’t disappoint. Rashad Perkins scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Gavin Ware added 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead Starkville past Tupelo 69-54.
GORDO, Ala. –– Nick Stewart made six 3-point field goals and scored 24 points Saturday to lead the Pickens County Tornadoes past Gordo 69-59 in the championship game of the Pickens County Tournament. The win was the 12th in a row for Pickens County (18-1). Also scoring in double figures for Pickens County was Deion Curry with 17 points.
STARKVILLE — Maybe this one will start a trend. The quality of play on display Saturday in the Starkville High-Starkville Academy boys soccer match at the Starkville Sportsplex certainly deserves a second chance. The fans and players are entitled to another meeting next season based solely on the result: a 2-2 tie that should help both teams prepare for the postseason.
OXFORD — Digging and clawing are two reasons the Ole Miss and Mississippi State women’s basketball teams are going in opposite directions. On one end, Shantell Black and Kayla Melson attacked the rim with purpose and Nikki Byrd wouldn’t be denied on the backboards. On the other, MSU continued to start and stop, sputtering between turnovers and missed opportunities with a cautiousness not welcome in the Southeastern Conference.
Kaleb Eulls became a hero in his hometown last year. Mississippi State could be ready to give Eulls a hero’s welcome in three weeks.
STARKVILLE — Alexis Rack tells it like it is. The Mississippi State senior guard doesn’t mind direct questions because she will be very honest with her feelings about her play and the team’s performance.
Bianca Thomas wants the basketball in her hands, even if it is against a professional. Thomas’ confidence that she can deliver for the University of Mississippi women’s basketball team stems in part from the work she does daily in practice against former Rebel and current WNBA standout Armintie Price.
Sometimes the coaching carousel in college football can spin out of control. In just one week, the University of Tennessee lost head coach Lane Kiffin, was turned down twice, and hired Derek Dooley. The Volunteers found an abrupt change can make for a very uncomfortable situation.
The Sulligent High School girls basketball team expects to be well rested when it plays host to the Lamar County Tournament. Sulligent hasn’t played since Friday and doesn’t take the court again until it plays in the championship game of the tournament Saturday.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State athletic officials are investigating an alleged incident involving football recruits during the first official weekend of visits. It has been reported that a small number of recruits may have visited an adult establishment in Clay County. MSU football team spokesman Joe Galbraith released a statement Tuesday afternoon concerning the incident.
West Point High School’s Curtis Virges can fill a lane on the basketball court. At 6-foot-3, 275 pounds, Virges can be a pretty imposing figure to drive to the basket against. Although he enjoys giving what he can to the West Point basketball team, Virges has more than just hoops on his mind. Virges can’t wait for Feb. 3, when he can officially sign a football scholarship with Mississippi State.
Give Mark White a chance and he could talk about John Harris all day. The East Mississippi Community College men’s basketball coach has nothing but good things to say about the sophomore guard from Starkville. White said Harris has been instrumental in helping the Lions to a 14-3 record this season.
STARKVILLE — Starkville Academy interim baseball coach Shane Bazzell was being held in the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center Tuesday on charges of felony grand larceny. Bazzell was arrested Jan. 15 by the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office for allegedly stealing an all-terrain vehicle. No further details were available. Grand larceny entails the unlawful taking of over $500 in property. Bazzell was suspended indefinitely by Starkville Academy Jan. 17. The school released a statement from Headmaster Doc Stephens stating: “As would be the case with any employee, he will be suspended indefinitely until definitive information is acquired.” Starkville Academy assistant baseball coach Neal Henry has taken over as interim head coach for Bazzell.
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.
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