Going into this past high school football season, Pickens County coach Scott Marchant asked junior Deion Curry to play a demanding position on defense. Marchant wanted to use Curry as a hybrid where he lined up at linebacker and safety. Marchant wanted to exploit Curry’s talents in stopping the run and defending the pass, depending on the situation.
Bat and ball sports have been a part of E.T. Colvin’s life ever since he can remember. Baseball was his sport at Lee High School in Columbus, and he was good enough to earn a scholarship to play the sport for three years at the University of Alabama. When Colvin realized he never was going to earn a living playing baseball, he turned to the next best thing: Softball.
Jamerson Love’s ability to fight through adversity has paid dividends. After getting off to a difficult start at Aberdeen High School three years ago, Love found the right way to go and went from occasional trouble-maker to a go-to player for coach Chris Duncan and the Bulldogs. For his accomplishments this season, Love, who helped Aberdeen to the Class 3A North State championship, is The Commercial Dispatch Small Schools Offensive Player of the Year. He thanked God for the opportunity to be player of the year and said improving his leg strength enabled him to play offense and defense.
Josh Poe had something to prove at West Oktibbeha High School. At 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, Poe knew he wasn’t going to have anything given to him and was going to have to earn his spot as linebacker. West Oktibbeha coach Adam Lowrey was reluctant at first to give Poe the chance, but once he saw him in action, the reservations vanished.
Chris Duncan had to endure a full schedule Fridays during football season. Splitting time as a coach and minister, Duncan would leave home in Calhoun County as early as 4:30 or 5 a.m. to deliver a tape of his radio show to the station, before going to Aberdeen High School. His day didn’t end when school was out because he had to coach the Bulldogs in a football game that night.
AMORY — The welcoming line extended almost out the door of the media center. If Trent Hammond didn’t understand how passionate Amory is about its high school football team, he grasped that concept after more than 40 minutes of shaking hands and talking with well-wishers Monday afternoon after being formally introduced as the school’s head football coach. Hammond, who was the head coach at Franklin County the past two seasons, was approved to be hired Friday by the Amory School Board. He replaces Pat Byrd, who earlier this month left the school to become head football coach at Saltillo High.
The relationship was forged in Starkville Area Youth basketball. The legacy started in the sixth grade with a point guard and a center. Edward Townsel, the guard, was just as fast. Rashad Perkins, the center, was just as tough, but no, he couldn’t dunk. Fast forward to Saturday night. Townsel and Perkins have used years of playing together and developed an ability to sense what the other is going to do on the basketball court.
STARKVILLE — There’s nothing Baxter Price would like more than to see Mississippi State’s basketball team get a big lead against Centenary tonight. As a walk-on with the Bulldogs, that scenario might be the only way Price will get to play and have a chance to score points in front of family and friends at Mississippi Coliseum. The freshman from Brandon, who attended Northwest Rankin High School, said it would be special if he was to receive playing time at 7 tonight when MSU plays in the capital city.
The Mississippi State women’s basketball has discovered this season what it’s like to get an opponent’s best game. When the opposition has been Texas, Rutgers, Southern California, or Xavier, the result has been less than positive for the Lady Bulldogs. MSU put itself in that position coming off a 23-11 season in which it advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. With four starters and 11 letterwinners returning, optimism entering the season was at an all-time high.
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.
1. New Hope's Taylor excited about chance to play at Gulf Coast C.C. HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. New Hope looks to bounce back from first loss HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. MSU women's golf cruises to victory at Old Waverly COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Noxubee County can clinch region title against Caledonia HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS