Joe Horne is smiling. The former Columbus High School teacher and scorekeeper, who passed away in 2003, would have loved the atmosphere Friday at Saturday at the 13th annual Columbus Christmas Invitational that has been named in his honor. Not only was there a packed house both days for the 16-game event, but the fans also had a chance to watch some of the region’s best talent.
STARKVILLE — Artie Cosby knew a long time ago Tiffany Huddleston was going to be a standout in sports. Cosby coached Huddleston in T-Ball when she was 5 or 6 and saw how advanced she was even at that age. While it’s common for many players not to be able to throw or to catch very well, Huddleston, the team’s first baseman and only girl, had the best glove, bat, and throwing arm.
Sadly, chest-pounding, trash-talking athletes who utilize flamboyant gestures while playing the “look-at-me” game to the hilt are all-to-often the norm today. Today, it’s almost inconceivable someone who has been described by friend and foe alike as a “powerful, explosive player” who has the ability to demolish her opponents at the net can, at the same time, be a reticent, humble, and somewhat shy individual who is uncomfortable when thrust into the limelight.
The Starkville High School boys basketball came up with one more big play with the game on the line. The result could have been a statement of even better things to come. Rashad Perkins blocked a shot in the lane by Jalen Courtney with 5.5 seconds remaining to preserve a one-point lead and then made a steal on the ensuing play to help Starkville hold on to beat previously unbeaten and No. 1 Provine 81-79 on Saturday in the final game of the 13th annual Joe Horne Columbus Christmas Invitational.
Columbus High School girls basketball Yvonne Hairston likes what her team can become. With freshmen Keke Patterson and Maggie Proffitt in the starting lineup, the Lady Falcons have players who can be the foundation of a program. The Joe Horne Christmas Classic provided those players a learning experience.
Geonte’ Richardson was given the green light by his coach to shoot the 3-pointer. He didn’t hold anything back Saturday. Richardson hit three from long range in the first quarter to help the East Oktibbeha High School boys basketball team build a 12-point lead en route to a 65-54 victory against Holt (Ala.) High at the 13th annual Joe Horne Columbus Christmas Invitational.
On the surface, the Noxubee County High School basketball teams have a lot going for them. The Tigerettes enter the next to last week of 2009 at 8-3, while the Tigers are 8-4. But Noxubee County High basketball coach T.J. Billups doesn’t want the players on both teams to be fooled into thinking they have accomplished anything or that those records mean they are certified as good teams.
STARKVILLE — Lyndsey Haynes doesn’t miss softball yet. The Starkville Academy pitcher admits she has reflected on her senior season and thought about what could have been after the Lady Volunteers finished third at the North Half State tournament. A change in the playoff format this season meant that showing wasn’t good enough by one place to push Starkville Academy into the overall Mississippi Association of Independent Schools AAA state tournament.
Neither one can truly be labeled a “power hitter.” But that term is so limiting because Caitlyn Atkins and Haley Tutor can do so much more for their teams. The Class 5A and Class 3A Mississippi High School Activities Association state titles New Hope and Hamilton high schools won this season are the final reward for all of their hard work and everything they contributed to their squads on and off the field. For their accomplishments this season, Atkins and Tutor are The Commercial Dispatch Slow-pitch All-Area co-Players of the Year.
Kevin McGuff and Sharon Fanning-Otis sound like there teams are at similar points in the season. On Wednesday, Fanning-Otis said the Lady Bulldogs are “nowhere near where we need to be to win a conference championship or to compete for a conference championship.” She made that comment after a 35-point victory against Mississippi Valley State. McGuff can empathize with Fanning-Otis’ feelings. The No. 12 Xavier women’s basketball team lost to Michigan 72-71 on Monday. The loss was the second in a row for the Musketeers (7-2).
It’s never too early to start looking at numbers. When you start the season with dreams of 64 and 16, those numbers can be pretty important, even though the season is only 11 games old. But the Mississippi State women’s basketball team’s body of work deserves examination as it prepares for its next-to-last non-conference game against No. 12 Xavier at 1 p.m. today.
By Adam Minichino firstname.lastname@example.org The spirit of giving and the holiday season is alive and well with the Columbus High School boys basketball program. In conjunction with the 13th annual Joe Horne Columbus Christmas Invitational, members of the Columbus High School boys basketball program Thursday handed out $200 worth of gift certificates for groceries at the Food Giant supermarket on Alabama Street in Columbus.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State’s men’s basketball team knows there will be times it doesn’t shoot well from beyond the 3-point line. Even though the Bulldogs enjoy shooting a Southeastern Conference-best 42 percent (104 of 248) from 3-point range, they understand it will be difficult to keep up that pace.
Greg Carter is anxious for this weekend. The Starkville High School boys basketball coach knows his team is off to an impressive 8-0 start and is ranked with the best teams in the state.
Members of the East Mississippi Community College football team are reaping the rewards from a record-breaking season. Sophomores Pat Shed (University of Alabama at Birmingham), John Rice (Western Michigan), Alvin Ellis and Gabe Poe (West Alabama) signed scholarships earlier this week to continue their football careers.
STARKVILLE —Jeff Terrill believes it will take more than just a coaching change to reverse the fortunes of the Starkville Academy football program. He said it also is going to take a change in attitude.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen took the first step to rebuilding a depleted backfield Wednesday by signing Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College running back Vick Ballard. The Bulldogs also added Ballard’s Mississippi Gulf Coast teammate James Carmon, a 6-foot-7, 370-pound defensive tackle, Wednesday, the first day that junior college players could sign with four-year schools.
The 13th annual Joe Horne Columbus Christmas Invitational won’t be all about the boys. Not only will the field include talented local teams from Columbus, East Oktibbeha, Noxubee County, and Starkville, but Raymond and Greenville-Weston also will add even more star power. Raymond, which is ranked No. 1 in The Clarion Ledger’s Super 10, will face Columbus at 5:40 p.m. Friday. It then will take on Greenville-Weston, which is No. 2, are scheduled to play at 5:20 p.m. Saturday in the tail end of what figures to be a jam-packed holiday present of basketball.
STARKVILLE — Barry Stewart has a continuous motor. It was in high gear Wednesday night for the Mississippi State men’s basketball team. Not only did Stewart have to chase Wright State guard Troy Tabler around the court, but he also saved enough energy to lead the Bulldogs with a season-high 21 points in an 80-69 victory in front of a crowd of 4,721 at Humphrey Coliseum.
STARKVILLE — On one hand, the Mississippi State women’s basketball team will offer its first five games. Included in those victories was a 29-point drubbing of perennial power Maryland. On the other hand, the Lady Bulldogs would like to forget a three-game winless streak last month in the Virgin Islands. The three-day trip saw MSU lose to Texas, Rutgers, and Southern California, teams that will mirror the level of competition it will face in the Southeastern Conference starting Jan. 3. On Wednesday, coach Sharon Fanning-Otis’ team was somewhere in the middle.
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