STARKVILLE — Another Rick Stansbury media gathering went by Monday with the Mississippi State University men’s basketball coach feeling pretty much the same about his team’s progression and the tools he has to work with.
The second season begins tonight. It’s time for the area basketball teams to put the ups and downs of the regular season behind them and to take care of business.
STEENS — New role, no problem. A year ago, Justin James was the young gun in an Immanuel Christian boys basketball starting lineup with four seniors. It was natural for James to defer to his more experienced teammates and let them take the leadership role.
STARKVILLE — Rima Kalonda isn’t as smooth as Armelie Lumanu. Kalonda also doesn’t have the silky shooting touch or the shot-blocker’s reach of Chanel Mokango. But just because Kalonda has different strengths than her Mississippi State women’s basketball teammates doesn’t mean she isn’t playing a key role in the team’s success.
STARKVILLE — The numbers are staggering. For three seasons, Chelsea Bramlett has laid waste to Mississippi State softball records. As a junior last season, Bramlett established new single-season marks for batting average (.486) and stolen bases (54). In the process, she became the school’s career leader in each category (.438, 146) to add to the fact she already is MSU’s leader in stolen bases percentage (.913), stolen bases per game (0.82), and runs per game (0.92). It’s scary to think even more marks — including NCAA records — could fall this year.
STARKVILLE –– With Friday’s revelation that Mississippi State will petition for Renardo Sidney’s reinstatement instead of appealing the NCAA’s findings on the freshman forward’s amateur status, all that’s left now is for the NCAA to decide what Sidney’s punishment will be. First reported by The Clarion Ledger on Friday, Don Jackson said MSU has moved forward by petitioning the NCAA to reinstate its McDonald’s High School All-American. Mississippi State associate athletic director for compliance Bracky Brett declined comment Saturday.
The West Lowndes High School boys basketball team earned even more legitimacy — at least in Lowndes County — on Friday night. Now the Panthers’ challenge is to back up what they earned from a season sweep of Columbus in their district tournament later this week. Demetrius Malone scored a game-high 25 points and Clemmie Hairston’s layup in overtime provided the go-ahead points that allowed West Lowndes to defeat Columbus 61-57.
MACON — The Starkville High School girls basketball team avoided an upset Friday, staving off a fourth quarter rally by Noxubee County for a 53-37 win. Starkville’s Shay Bonner led all scorers with 17 points, while teammate Kala Williams finished with 10. The Lady Jackets entered the game a day after dropping a one-point district home loss to South Panola.
The Columbus High School baseball team First-Pitch Banquet will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the school’s cafeteria. Former Columbus High, Itawamba Community College, and Mississippi State football standout Tyson Lee will be the guest speaker. “We use it to kick off the season, establish some alumni support, and get them back involved in the program,” Columbus High coach Jeff Cook said. “It’s a good way to come out and see the players we have and, of course, listen to Tyson, who is a fine speaker. It’s a good way to get the season started.”
WINONA –– Justin James scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds Saturday night to lead the Immanuel Christian boys basketball team past Winona Christian 40-37 in the championship game of the MAIS Class A, District 3 championship game. Ross Moore scored 11 points, A.J. Johnston scored six and Wade Lee scored five for Immanuel, which improved to 17-13. Immanuel had to rally to claim the victory. The Rams trailed 11-6 after the first quarter and 24-23 at halftime before outscoring Winona Christian 8-2 in the third period to take a 31-26 lead.
With the hunting season coming to a close, I am seeing more boats on the water lately. Anglers are beginning to feel the itch to start fishing. If they are slow and methodical with their lures and casts, they will find some good fishing.
STARKVILLE — Some folks might differ about the talent in the state of Mississippi, but that suits Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen just fine. Even though rival Ole Miss and MSU virtually split the state’s top 10 recruits, Mullen stepped to the podium Wednesday at the Bryan Athletic Building and repeated what he said at this time last year. “For the second year in a row we’ve recruited 16 high school players from the state of Mississippi, which is more than Southern Miss and the school up north (Ole Miss) combined this year,” Mullen said. “That’s the foundation of our program, recruiting high school players from the state of Mississippi.”
STARKVILLE –– The next step in the Renardo Sidney case is in Mississippi State’s court. Thursday, Sidney attorney Don Jackson forwarded the AMA’s analysis of the NCAA’s Fact Finding Committee’s conclusion. Though most of the findings resulted in what Jackson estimated to be “less than $1,000,” his concern over his client being pegged with a violation of NCAA Bylaw 10.1-(d) was evident when reached Thursday for comment.
STARKVILLE — Some nights you just have to try something else. As shooters go, Alexis Rack has the right mind-set. She takes the court with a swagger and hands at ready to launch daggers from any spot on the court. Usually, the Mississippi State senior prefers to fire away from 3-point range, and those attempts often spark the Lady Bulldogs. But nights like Thursday — when even the easiest look at the basket proves frustrating — have come few and far between this season.
WINONA –– The Immanuel Christian girls basketball team made school history Thursday night. The Lady Rams earned a berth in the championship game of the MAIS Class A, District 3 Tournament for the first time by upsetting No. 1-seed Kemper Academy 55-53 in overtime. Immanuel (17-11) outscored Kemper Academy 7-5 in overtime to claim the victory. The Lady Rams will play Hebron Christian in the championship game at 7 p.m. Saturday.
A chance to make history was too much to pass up for Khiry Karriem. That’s why the Itawamba Community College standout decided Wednesday to sign a National Letter of Intent to play football for Georgia State. The Panthers, under the leadership of former University of Alabama, Georgia Tech, and Kentucky coach and ESPN analyst Bill Curry, will kick off their inaugural season later this year. The team will play its home games in the Georgia Dome, the home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
Billy Autrey knew he was going to have to make a decision. Unfortunately, that choice was going to spell the end for one sport and the continuation of another. Autrey’s decision Wednesday to sign a National Letter of Intent to play football at the University of Alabama at Birmingham signified the realization of a dream. Following a strong freshman season on the offensive line at East Mississippi Community College, the former Columbus High standout will have an opportunity to realize his goal of competing at the Division I level.
STARKVILLE –– Dudy Gras just keeps getting bigger, and Mississippi State baseball John Cohen is enjoying every minute of it. The annual parade celebrates the start of MSU’s baseball season, but organizers have taken it to a new level for this year’s edition. In addition to the annual parade that’s marched through Starkville and to Left Field Lounge at Dudy Noble Field, there will be a first-ever Dudy Gras Ball at the conclusion of “Eight Days of Dudy Gras” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Hilton Garden Inn.
STARKVILLE — With a core group of All-Americans, the Mississippi State men’s track team is all about exposure these days. After a nationally televised 4x400-meter relay win (3 minutes, 19.44 seconds) at the Millrose Games on Jan. 29, the Bulldogs made a statement for the upcoming Southeastern Conference season. With a potential Top 10 team and six All-Americans, though, MSU coach Al Schmidt is thinking on a grander scale.
STARKVILLE — A National Signing Day surge saw the Mississippi State University football team land the state’s top offensive lineman and snag two more from other programs.
1. Woods officially takes over at Starkville High HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Cohen, Bulldogs look for answers after 2015 season COLLEGE SPORTS