Kayla Taylor didn't know what to expect from her senior season. After watching eight seniors come up short in their quest to win an Alabama Christian Education Athletic Association Division I state title in 2011, Taylor hoped the Victory Christian Academy girls basketball team could return to the championship glory of 2010, when the Lady Eagles won a championship some thought was a year ahead of schedule.
One person's TEAM is more than just another cliché when it comes to the Starkville Academy girls basketball team. If you have been around coaches long enough, you probably have heard plenty of phrases and sayings they have used in an attempt to bring their squads together.
Tyler Blevins needs a new nickname. After losing more than 20 pounds, a slimmed down Blevins no longer resembles the "Bubble" moniker that fans shouted out at him Saturday night. Blevins' effort in the eighth inning showed he might have a headstart on a new nickname of choice: Clutch.
CLINTON -- Nora Kathryn Carroll saved her best for last. In her first two games at the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools overall state tournament, the Starkville Academy junior guard had nine points and six rebounds.
Dr. Stan Miller has just completed his second year as Starkville High School's athletic director. A Jersey City, N.J., native, Miller returned to Starkville in 2009 after serving a 14-year stint as the school's principal.
Tiffany Huddleston couldn't help but hold back a smile.
CLINTON -- As you wish. Starkville Academy girls basketball coach Glenn Schmidt hoped her team would get off to a fast start Friday afternoon against Jackson Prep for two reasons. Not only did Schmidt not want to twist and turn as the Lady Volunteers rallied in the second half from another double-digit deficit, but she also wanted to erase the memory of the last first quarter her team played against the Lady Patriots. Anna Lea Little and her teammates were only too happy to oblige.
CLINTON -- Anna Prestridge has been a part of a lot of fond memories as a member of the Starkville Academy girls basketball team. There are also some things she would like to forget. Leave it to coach Glenn Schmidt to remember one of those forgettable incidents and to bring it up one day before the team played in the semifinals of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools overall state tournament.
CALEDONIA -- Zia Saraiva doesn't think she is a loud mouth. It's just that when she gets on the soccer field she usually doesn't stop talking. In some sports, Saraiva's gift for gab could take away from her play and distract her team. But the Caledonia High School girls soccer team has gotten used to Saraiva's penchant for constant communication as a defender. In fact, her talkativeness helped anchor the Lady Confederates' defense the past three seasons.
Inexperience never was an excuse for Katie Proctor. When she first joined the Columbus High School girls soccer team as a freshman, Proctor didn't know any way else to play but to go all out. The score or the time remaining in the match didn't matter because Proctor realized even as a ninth-grader it was up to her to set a pace she hoped others were going to follow.
CLINTON -- One down, two to go. Reality can make the high of even a first Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA state championship wear off pretty quickly. Such was the predicament the Starkville Academy girls basketball team faced Wednesday in its first game at the MAIS overall state tournament at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the campus of Mississippi College.
CLINTON -- The Starkville Academy girls basketball team outscored Bowling Green (La.) Academy 18-2 in the fourth quarter Wednesday to rally for a 45-35 victory in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools overall state tournament at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the campus of Mississippi College. With the win, Starkville Academy (36-5), the Class AAA champion, will play the winner of the Mt/ Salus Christian Academy-Jackson Prep game at 1 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
Starkville High executed three different hit-and-run opportunities to perfection Tuesday night. With offensive production like that, the Yellow Jackets did not need the 12 walks and two hit batsman issued by Columbus pitching or the six errors made by the Columbus defense. All of those extras led to a bevy of insurance runs as the Jackets belted the Falcons 18-4 in a five-inning prep baseball contest.
STARKVILLE -- It's only natural for the Starkville Academy girls basketball team to look to Anna Prestridge to be a leader. Many of the Lady Volunteers might not know it, but Prestridge grew up with a basketball in her hands and has played point guard all her life, so it isn't surprising she transitioned into that role at Starkville Academy.
WEST POINT -- With a drenched diamond and gloomy atmosphere, the West Point Green Wave overcame the elements to knock off Caledonia 6-3 in prep baseball action Tuesday night. The Green Wave (1-2) rocked the baseball for the first three innings and scored five runs. Four of those five runs came off the bats of starting pitcher Freddie Reed and eventual closer Leroy Calvert - both with two RBIs apiece.
JACKSON -- The Wayne County High School boys basketball team was simply better than Starkville in every way possible.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School boys basketball coach Greg Carter has a short list of keys to victory for his team at the state tournament. "In the Big House, everybody is really good," Carter said. "It comes down to taking care of the little stuff, that and making shots. I know that sounds simple, but this is not rocket science. The championship teams are the ones who take care of the little stuff and make shots."
PHEBA -- Push, pull, prod, bump, elbow. You name it, Hebron Christian senior center Tori Nichols has felt it from opponents. You can't blame them, really, because Nichols has been so dominant that two and three players often have trouble slowing her down so they have to resort to any means necessary to gain a stalemate or an advantage.
STEENS -- Baseball players and coaches at Hebron Christian have big goals for this season. The Eagles want to win a district championship. "Our expectations are really high this year," Hebron Christian coach Cass Tapley said. "We have raised the bar this year. We are in it to win every game we play. Anything less than a district championship will be a disappointment."
CALEDONIA -- After a dismal performance at the plate during the final preseason jamboree last week, Caledonia High School baseball coach John Wilson thought his team had taken a step back. Caledonia struck out 18 times in 24 at-bats in a pair of four-inning games at Columbus. Sure, the Feds' top two hitters from the previous season were gone, but the rest of the roster was intact. Wilson was keen to see his team close the gap after losing 13 games in which they led after the fifth inning in 2011.
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