REFORM, Ala. -- The reminders are everywhere. The 2010 state championship banner greets everyone as they enter Tornado Alley at Pickens County High School. If you find your way back to coach Russ Wallace's office, you're bound to spot the screen saver that features members of the 2009-10 boys basketball team celebrating its Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A state title.
CARROLLTON, Ala. -- Scorers usually fit into one mold. While others will be asked to rebound and to focus on defense, scorers typically concentrate on filling it up and finding ways to get open and break defenses down. But Jacob Acker is different.
STARKVILLE -- Kiandria Patterson heard the doubters. Critics of the Columbus High School girls' basketball team said a team with eight sophomores and one senior couldn't live up to the lofty goal of winning a district championship. After all, the Lady Falcons had never won a district title and have struggled annually to overtake Tupelo and Starkville in Class 6A, Region 2.
HORN LAKE -- The clapping will echo into the offseason. Columbus High School's Brelana Coleman stood just inside halfcourt and pounded her hands together after teammate KeKe Patterson was fouled. Patterson was about to hit two free throws to cut a 24-point second-quarter deficit in half midway through the third quarter. Surely Columbus couldn't come all the way back and upset Northwest Rankin to earn a berth in the state tournament.
VICKSBURG -- The Mississippi High School Activities Association defending class 6A and Grand Slam champions are going back to Jackson for more. This time, though, the Starkville High School boys basketball team will go as a runner-up. Jacolby Mobley had 12 points Saturday, but Vicksburg defeated Starkville 69-54 in the Class 6A North State final at Vicksburg High.
STARKVILLE -- Athleticism can only get a team so far. Attitude and bravado can help compensate for a lack of experience or skill, and the players on the Starkville Academy baseball team said they're as confident as they've ever been.
Post play isn't suited for those with weak dispositions. But Kameron Corrothers and Kierra Erby are proving you don't have to be the biggest players on the court to hold your own.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School baseball coach Danny Carlisle isn't sure how good his team will be this season, but he won't have to worry about players giving maximum effort. The Yellow Jackets have six starting positions open, and they must find a replacement for The Dispatch All-Area Large Schools Player of the Year R.J. Johnson, who led the team in ERA, batting average, and home runs.
Don't underestimate the bounce. After missing the first of two free throws with four seconds remaining, KeKe Patterson wasn't about to buy into the hype.
STARKVILLE -- The Starkville High School fast-pitch softball team won six games last season to take a major step forward. Third-year Starkville coach Mimi Milling's job now is to make sure the wheels keep turning. In the past, Milling hasn't had experienced seniors who are used to her style of coaching. She has witnessed players leave the program and has struggled to find a dedicated core to lay a solid foundation. With eight seniors this season, she thinks double-digit wins and a trip to the playoffs are within reach.
Rachel Hollivay is getting better every day. Even though the Heritage Academy junior admits she isn't 100 percent, her ability to affect a game still remains high.
MABEN -- A 35-point effort by forward Kendrin Yates and a well executed full-court press pushed the West Oktibbeha County High School boys basketball team to a 68-63 victory against Shaw in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A North State tournament.
CRAWFORD -- A team with twice as many losses as wins is bound to have shaky moments. For much of the season, the East Oktibbeha County High School boys basketball team had too many to win consistently.
ABERDEEN -- Absent its usually potent outside game, the Aberdeen High School boys basketball team looked inside for its scoring punch Tuesday night.
WEST POINT -- The West Point High School girls basketball team's season ended Monday with a 67-48 loss to Indianola Gentry in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State tournament.
GREENWOOD -- Christibeth Nelson had 13 points Monday night, but the Heritage Academy girls basketball team lost to Pillow Academy 50-35 in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA, Division II tournament.
STARKVILLE -- Without injured starters Gavin Ware and Jacolby Mobley, Starkville High School basketball fans might have been unsure of what to expect in Friday's district championship against rival Tupelo. The Golden Wave already owned two wins -- by a combined three points -- against the Yellow Jackets in regular season play.
WEST POINT -- A nine-point halftime deficit is an anthill to the Oxford High School girls basketball team. After losing twice to Oxford in the regular season, Kelsei Ewings knew the Chargers were going to ratchet up their full-court pressure defense a few notches, so she challenged teammate NeKeisha Walker.
WEST POINT -- If you're going to play fast, it's crucial to play smart. Each mistake -- forced or unforced -- gets magnified when you're up against an equally talented opponent that can match your athleticism.
Don't underestimate the power of a layup. There probably is some statistical analysis that will prove a team can score more points if it shoots more 3-pointers at a certain percentage than two-point field goals in a game.
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