The picture was one of desolation. The 2009 season was supposed to be a coronation, a five-month love fest in which the West Point High School football team reclaimed what was rightfully something it had lost in 2005. But Shannon High didn’t get that message, and on Aug. 21 the Red Raiders spoiled the Green Wave’s plans with an exciting 27-20 overtime victory in the season opener for both teams.
The Mississippi State women’s basketball team passed its first true test of the season Sunday afternoon with an 84-55 victory against Maryland. A crowd of 3,042 at Humphrey Coliseum watched as the Lady Bulldogs used a hot shooting day from senior guard Alexis Rack (career-high 43 points), stout defense, and their experience to overwhelm the younger Terrapins.
Women’s basketball fans can rejoice. ESPN and its family of networks will kick off a schedule of 250 women’s basketball games at 4 p.m. today (ESPN2) when Baylor plays at Tennessee in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic. The game will be the first of a season filled with women’s basketball on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN360.com and ESPN Full Court. The schedule will be the biggest ever by the family of networks.
SCOOBA — The Wild Rebel has its next star. Randall Mackey is still a few months away from officially finding his way to the University of Mississippi, but when he does, coach Houston Nutt could have a quarterback with the potential to shift the Rebels’ offense to a sixth gear.
There’s only one thing better than winning a North State championship. The Hamilton and New Hope High School slow-pitch softball teams experienced that feeling Saturday at the V.A. Fields in Jackson when they won the Class 2A and Class 5A championships, respectively.
Mississippi has some of the best fishing waters anywhere in the South. If you ask most weekend anglers, they stick with the water areas close to home. The fact is an angler can plan a day trip and fish most any body of water Mississippi offers.
If day one of the Southeastern Conference Media Days was an appetizer, the filet mignon served Thursday was a treat. Four of the SEC’s heavy hitters — Georgia’s Mark Richt, Alabama’s Nick Saban, Ole Miss’ Houston Nutt, and Florida’s Urban Meyer — were on hand to give their appraisals of the upcoming 2009 season. Each coach had a hot topic item to address, and the four programs should be the most interesting ones this season in the rough and tumble SEC.
The victory lap just might be the precursor to the dogpile. That thought popped into my head Wednesday night as members of the Columbus Nationals 10-year-old Dizzy Dean baseball team followed each other on a run around the bases at Patterson Field at Propst Park. The team had just received their medals following a 13-3 victory against Clinton that helped it clinch the South Half state title. The scene made me smile.
Remember the Titans? It’s hard to forget the Ridgeland High School version. For the second consecutive year, the Ridgeland Titans won the Dizzy Dean High School World Series. The Titans defeated Kosciusko 6-1 on Monday at New Hope High School’s Trojan Field to repeat as champions. The thing that seems to make Ridgeland click more than anything else is teamwork.
There wasn’t much more one could add to what was expressed Tuesday at a memorial service for Don Foster at the Starkville Sportsplex. Foster, the former sports editor of The Starkville Daily News, was a friend to many people, and I’m fortunate to be one of them. Don died June 8 at his West Point home. Starkville Academy girls basketball coach Glenn Schmidt, Starkville High School baseball coach Danny Carlisle, and former Mississippi State Athletic Director Larry Templeton were the main speakers and couldn’t have done a better job in recalling memories of Don. Their words were heartfelt and sincere.
Politics and coaching don’t mix. Stacy Hester followed that credo in his dealings with parents, administrators, and players. Sometimes it got him into trouble. Players left his program because they didn’t like playing for him. Parents thought Hester to be arrogant or unyielding in how he dealt with them or with their children. But through it all Hester established a standard of excellence. His teams won 551 games and three state titles his 18 years as New Hope High School’s baseball coach.
The Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament has been known to be one of the best college tournaments in the country. Sometimes the fans are put in tough situations to see it all. The SEC attempts to play four games per day the first, second and fourth rounds of the tournament and sometimes the final game lasts well into the next morning. Take Wednesday for example.
Mississippi State center Jarvis Varnado may not be able to get much bigger, but he can get better. That’s why another season at Mississippi State would benefit the two-time Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Varnado announced Monday that he was making himself eligible for early entry into the NBA Draft. He has until June 15 to decide if it is in his best interest.
Sports play a lot of roles in our society. Whether it’s basketball or soccer or baseball or football, to name just a few, sports bring communities together. They unite people of different backgrounds and ages behind a school or a team. Sports also bring people together at one location.
Defensive lineman Pernell McPhee has looked like a man among boys the first three days of Mississippi State spring football practice. McPhee’s 6-4, 270-pound frame was impressive enough without pads, but when the Bulldogs put them on for the first time Saturday, he really had the appearance of a giant. The former Itawamba Community College player, from Pahokee, Fla., could probably play in the National Football League right now. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen is glad to have him on his side, even if it’s only for two seasons.
The bar has been set higher. The Mississippi State women’s basketball team’s mission for the 2009-10 season is to live up to those standards. “It will be up to them,” MSU coach Sharon Fanning said Thursday. The Lady Bulldogs will begin individual workouts next week that they hope will help set the tone for next season. That season has the potential to be the best in the program’s history, not just in victories but in the deepest move into the NCAA tournament.
Sharon Fanning has talked all season about responding to challenges. The Mississippi State women’s basketball team discovered Saturday there was no better time than tied at 59 with less than two minutes remaining in its first NCAA tournament game in six years to punch back. The Lady Bulldogs delivered a knockout blow many have been waiting for all season.
The destination is ... The Mississippi State women’s basketball team hasn’t faced much drama the past five years in March, This year is different. The only drama the Lady Bulldogs will face tonight is discovering where they will play their first-round opponent in the NCAA tournament. The Lady Bulldogs will gather at 6 tonight at the Templeton Athletic Academic Center to watch the NCAA women’s basketball tournament selection show on ESPN. At 22-9, MSU has its most victories since the 2002-03 season, the last time it advanced to the NCAA tournament.
Madness doesn’t officially begin for another month, but it is never too early to start crunching the numbers. By nearly every indicator, the Mississippi State women’s basketball team has done enough to put itself squarely on the bubble for NCAA tournament consideration.
1. Mississippi State falls hard in SEC matchup at Georgia COLLEGE SPORTS
2. West Point stands tall in battle of state champions HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. MSU Notebook: Fitzgerald endures tough return home COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Columbus celebrates Homecoming with overtime win HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. New Hope takes Lowndes County rivalry matchup HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS