STARKVILLE — Sometimes there comes a time when a coach has to give up something he loves. That time has come for Starkville High School football coach Bill Lee. After 30 years of coaching on the high school and junior college levels, Lee has decided to retire effective at the end of the school year. Lee said opportunity to spend more time in ministry and with his family motivated him to make the decision.
“Roll Tide, Redden.” Regardless of which college football team you love, those words have a familiar ring if you live in Columbus or in West Alabama. That’s because Alan Redden just might be the area’s biggest fan of the University of Alabama. He holds that title even though he drives a truck for his business, Redden Satellite, that has lettering outlined in blue and orange — the colors or archrival Auburn.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State men’s basketball coach Rick Stansbury knows St. Bonaventure center Andrew Nicholson will be a difficult matchup. The toughest thing for the Bulldogs about facing Nicholson is center Jarvis Varnado might have his shot-blocking hand taped up. Varnado dislocated two fingers on his left hand last week attempting to block a shot against Old Dominion. Stansbury isn’t sure how much he’ll be able to help against the Bonnies at 1 p.m. Saturday.
MACON — Hebron Christian School girls basketball coach Greg Watkins wondered if the Lady Eagles could handle the pressure of going into overtime. That question was answered Thursday night. Tied at 39 at the end of regulation, the Lady Eagles used a 15-point overtime to earn a 54-47 victory against Central Academy. Watkins wasn’t only concerned about playing an extra quarter, he was worried about dealing with the Lady Vikings’ defense. He was pleased his players responded.
The Sulligent High School basketball coaches have visions of grandeur when it comes to the Blue Devil Classic. Sulligent boys coach Tommy Chism and girls coach Ronnie Hubbert would like to expand the one-day classic and have teams from Alabama play teams from Mississippi. The inaugural Blue Devil Classic will tip off Saturday with the Caledonia and Baldwyn boys from Mississippi, and Sulligent, Curry, Dora, and Hamilton boys and girls from Alabama.
Leaders look past the present and to the future. Marcus Hinton didn’t intend for his Aberdeen High School football career to end last season with a loss to Louisville in the Class 3A North Half State title game. But as the reality of the Bulldogs’ 41-21 loss to the eventual state champions sunk in, Hinton looked around and saw the potential through a lot of disappointed faces. He wanted to erase that sentiment and help his teammates re-focus on another goal.
STARKVILLE — Incomplete. On paper, the statistics from the Mississippi State women’s basketball team’s 85-52 victory against Southern Miss reflect an impressive evening.
JACKSON — Decedrick Quinn doesn’t mince words. As a linebacker on the Aberdeen High School defense, Quinn has watched as opponents have rushed through, around, and over it en route to the end zone. Quinn vowed his senior year was going to be different.
It’s all about serving others to Shaun Taylor. Whether it’s working in game management at Mississippi State or helping as a volunteer football coach at West Point High School, Taylor welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the communities and schools he loves.
East Mississippi Community College women’s basketball coach Sharon Thompson is relying on freshmen in order for her team to have a successful season. Twelve of EMCC’s 15 players are freshmen. Of the team’s sophomores, only one — Martika Hull — is a returning starter, while the other — Eryn Gray — is a transfer from Meridian Community College. One player who is contributing in her first season with the Lady Lions (5-4) is guard Natalie Tate, of Columbus.
STARKVILLE — The Mississippi State women’s basketball will see at 7 tonight if has learned its lessons and is ready to move on. Coach Sharon Fanning-Otis hopes the Lady Bulldogs will be in that position when they take on Southern Miss (3-3) at Humphrey Coliseum. The game is the first for MSU (4-3) after it went 0-3 last weekend at the 10th annual Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. MSU, which entered the three-day tournament ranked No. 19 in the Associated Press Top 25, opened the tournament with a 73-55 loss to then-No. 13 Texas. MSU beat Texas 71-63 last season in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
JACKSON — As a Junior, it was natural for Curtis Virges’ mother to pick out the nickname “Jun Jun” for her son. Opponents on the football field likely have a different set of names they call the West Point High School senior defensive lineman. “The Beast” is one that comes to mind, especially after Virges stood Monday at the front of the conference room in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and towered over teammate and senior running back Xavier Hogan. Virges usually has that kind of dominating presence on the football field, too.
JACKSON — Walter Denton hopes to experience a championship feeling this weekend. Last season, the Tylertown High School football coach left Mississippi Memorial Stadium wondering what could have been. Tylertown and Louisville played to a virtual statistical dead heat on paper in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 3A state title game. But Chris Wraggs’ 11-yard pass to Jordan Christion in the fourth quarter erased a one-point deficit and helped give Louisville a 26-21 victory.
Typically, Johnathan Brandon terrorizes defenses with his long-range marksmanship. A proficient spot-up shooter, the New Hope High School senior guard has a smooth stroke that remains in form well beyond the 3-point arc. But something felt wrong Tuesday night. Brandon sensed it in warmups when his shooting touch seemed cold. But scorers find other ways to beat you. Brandon shook off the effects a weight lifting session had on his shooting stroke and still scored a team-high 20 points to lead a balanced scoring effort in a 65-57 victory against Caledonia.
STARKVILLE — Heritage Academy basketball coach Bruce Allsup learns more and more about his boys team each game it plays. With four games in five days this week, he should find out quite a bit. The Patriots had played only three games prior to Tuesday night’s matchup at Starkville Academy. Heritage Academy made sure it began the week on a positive note by recording a 65-37 victory.
ABERDEEN— The third quarter proved to be the difference here Tuesday evening, as Aberdeen and Noxubee County high schools split a varsity basketball doubleheader. Leading 30-27 at halftime, the unbeaten Lady Bulldogs (5-0) outscored Noxubee County 25-15 in the third period en route to a 74-63 win against the Tigerettes (4-2). In the boys game, Aberdeen (1-4) had a surprising 35-26 halftime lead against Noxubee (5-2), but the Tigers lit the board for 38 third-quarter points in what turned out to be an 84-62 win for coach T.J. Billups.
STARKVILLE — One year ago, Mississippi State Athletic Director Greg Byrne was looking for a new football coach. After Sylvester Croom resigned following a 4-8 season and a 45-0 loss to the University of Mississippi, Byrne knew he had to find someone to help energize the program. He found Dan Mullen.
JACKSON — Xavier Hogan had doubts. After seeing his junior football season at West Point High School end in disappointment with a first-round loss in the Class 4A North Half State playoffs last year, Hogan wanted to make a stand in his final season. To do that, though, Hogan and his classmates knew the Green Wave needed to find a dependable quarterback.
STARKVILLE -- Carl Torbush has been on both sides of the Egg Bowl rivalry between Mississippi State and Ole Miss. As the defensive coordinator at Ole Miss from 1983-86, Torbush didn’t lose to MSU. Now as the defensive coordinator at MSU, Torbush turned the tables on Ole Miss on Saturday as the Bulldogs won the Egg Bowl 41-27 at Davis Wade Stadium. It was a satisfying way for Torbush and MSU (5-7, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) to end the season.
STARKVILLE — It remains to be seen whether Chris Relf is the quarterback of the future for Mississippi State. On Saturday, Relf was more than adequate for the present. The sophomore rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns and threw for two more scores to help MSU upset No. 20 University of Mississippi 41-27 before a crowd of 55,365 at Davis Wade Stadium. MSU (5-7, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) ended Dan Mullen’s first season as coach on a good note and avenged a 45-0 loss to the Rebels last season.
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