STARKVILLE — Starkville High School’s run to the state championship game is head coach Greg Carter’s first since 2003 and with as much that’s changed since then he hopes his evolution as a coach translates into a title. Back in 2003, Starkville lost the championship game to Vicksburgl. As exciting as making it to the championship game was for Carter, getting back to the final game seemed possible, if not probable, especially after qualifying for three more state tournaments the next six years.
The teaching will continue all season for Steve Hancock and Marion Bratton. Like all baseball coaches, Hancock and Bratton offer instruction, pointers, and guidance to their players. This season, though, with two of the youngest teams in the area, both coaches will dip deeper into their baseball knowledge. On Thursday night, Hancock’s Heritage Academy Patriots showed they are a little more advanced at this point in the season than Bratton’s Oak Hill Academy Raiders.
STARKVILLE — There’s something about a big stage that can rattle a young player at the moment when he or she needs to be focused most. The Starkville High School boys basketball team has five sophomores that head coach Greg Carter hopes don’t get wide-eyed when the Yellow Jackets play Biloxi on Wednesday in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A semifinals of the state tournament at Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.
Brach White has high expectations entering his second season as the baseball coach at Pickens Academy in Carrollton, Ala. White and the Pirates have set a goal to win the Alabama Independent School Association Class AA state championship.
STARKVILLE — Four empty state tournament trips to Jackson since 2000 have created high expectations and an ever-present shadow behind Starkville High School’s boys basketball team. Starkville players hear the nay-sayers in the classroom and in the community. “It’ll stop in Jackson” and “You guys will choke when you get to Jackson” get tossed around as if the Yellow Jackets have no support from the people who show up and watch them dunk, throw alley oops off the backboard, and, lest not forget, win at home.
Deion Curry and the Pickens County High School boys basketball team weren’t meant to be denied. Curry was instrumental this past Thursday in helping Pickens County win its first state championship in school history. The 5-foot-11 junior guard scored a game-high 31 points and had four rebounds, two assists and a steal to lead Pickens County past Houston County 88-86 in triple overtime in the Class 2A championship game of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Final 48 Championships at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center in Birmingham, Ala.
After playing against the best players in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, Madison Ford gets a chance to be their teammate. The Heritage Academy senior gets that priviledge Saturday when she plays in the MAIS Class AA-AAA Girls All-Star Basketball Game. Ford will play for the North, which will play the South at 2:30 p.m. at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the campus of Mississippi College in Clinton.
Boyd Hardy received a pleasant surprise when he learned he will get to take his place alongside the best soccer players in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools. The Heritage Academy senior earned that distinction by being selected to play in the MAIS All-Star Soccer Game. Hardy was one of 18 players chosen to play for the North squad. The game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Friday at Raider Field at Jackson Academy. The admission is $8.
REFORM, Ala. –– Friday afternoon was one time Russ Wallace didn’t mind seeing a police officer turn on his blue squad lights. The Pickens County High School boys basketball coach and his team received a police escort home after winning the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A state championship Thursday night. Pickens County won its first state championship in school history when it beat Houston County 88-86 in triple overtime at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center in Birmingham, Ala.
Down 0-2 in the count, Christian Dale didn’t have any wiggle room. With the suicide squeeze bunt on and a pitch coming high and tight, Avery Ford had little margin for error. On both occasions, the Falcons executed. As a result, the Columbus High School baseball team found the sparks it needed to earn its first victory of the season. Dale’s two-run single and Ford’s successful bunt were part of a five-run fifth inning Saturday that helped Columbus rally for a 12-6 victory against Caledonia in the final game of the Columbus Classic at Columbus High’s Sammy Fletcher Field. Both plays were crucial parts of a four-hit inning that helped the Falcons (1-1) erase a 6-5 deficit and rebound from a 6-2 loss to Shannon on Friday night.
The West Point High School baseball team has only played two games, but coach Buddy Wyers already knows one thing that could be a key element to any success the team has this season. The ability of West Point to develop a short-term memory and play consistently crystallized for Wyers on Saturday as he watched his team commit six errors and strike out 13 times in a 10-5 loss to Alcorn Central in the Columbus Classic at Columbus High. “We struggled offensively,” Wyers said. “We had a couple of hits that were key hits, but we have way too many guys who can run to be standing up there striking out. You put the ball in play and you make them get you out.” The loss came on the heels of a 5-0 victory against Shannon on Friday in which Damichael Brown delivered a strong starting effort on the mound in the season opener.
Chad Williams was wearing his hat out. A tug here. another tug there. Soon the hat was off the Amory High School baseball coach’s head. It didn’t take long for Williams to start jawing with his players and pacing the dugout like he was West Lauderdale coach Jerry Boatner. Williams couldn’t help but think back to last season when New Hope capped a five-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning with a bases-loaded walk to beat Amory 12-11.
STARKVILLE — Four years ago, Starkville High School’s girls powerlifiting team had just a few members. But just like any upstart program, time and results can build a program toward winning championships. The Lady Jackets are a perfect example of what patience and persistence can do in a short span of time. Starkville coach Leonardo Thompson has led the program since its inception and has seen the year-to-year growth as more girls become interested in staying fit and having an outlet for competition.
Cameron Newman isn’t all about soccer. The Columbus High School senior loves the game, but he also knows the importance of getting a quality education. Newman has his sights set on majoring in psychology, and he knows Meridian Community College’s reputation as one of the state’s top junior colleges would help him take his first step toward realizing that goal. It doesn’t hurt that Newman also will get a chance to play soccer at MCC.
MERIDIAN — The New Hope High School fast-pitch softball team started its season in style Saturday. Empress Shirley went 2-for-3 with four RBIs in her first varsity start in game one, and Lauren Holifield and Anna Holley had three RBIs in game two to lead New Hope past South Jones 18-8 and Yazoo County 16-0 at the Northeast Lauderdale Pre-Season Tournament. Shirley had a single and a triple at designated player for New Hope (2-0). Holifield, who earned the victory in the five-inning game, was 1-for-2 with three walks. Holley (2-for-3), Haley Tutor (1-for-5), D.J. Ferguson (1-for-4), Kasey Stanfield (sacrifice fly), Rachel Rhoades (2-for-4, two RBIs), Anna McCrary (1-for-3, RBI), and Jessica Moore (2-for-4, double, four RBIs) also contributed to the hitting attack.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Pickens County High School boys basketball team can make school history tonight when it takes the court at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center. Pickens County, of Reform, Ala., will attempt to win its first state championship when it plays Houston County at 8 p.m. in the Class 2A championship game of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Final 48 State Tournament.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Russ Wallace believes in miracles. The Pickens County High School boys basketball coach is a believer after watching his team earn an improbable victory on the state’s biggest stage.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Deion Curry wasn’t going to let anything keep him from helping the Pickens County High School boys basketball team make it to its first state championship game in 39 years. The junior guard overcame being involved in a collision Tuesday to help Pickens County beat Sand Rock 59-54 in the Class 2A semifinals of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Final 48 State Tournament at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center.
Sports never follow a plan. If they did, Chris Hamm’s speech Saturday following the title game of the Alabama Christian Education Athletic Association Division I State Tournament would have praised the players for their effort and convinced them that the 2010-11 season was theirs to win a championship.
Brandon Johnson didn’t have a busy Saturday at the Columbus High School baseball jamboree. He’d like to hope the rest of the season will be as uneventful, but he knows better. The start of another baseball season has Johnson concerned he might be right.
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