STARKVILLE — There isn’t much left for Starkville Academy’s soccer team to do this season besides hoisting the state championship trophy. At 10-0 and with a plus-47 goal differential this season, the Volunteers enter today’s Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA playoff tie against Jackson Prep (11-7) as favorites. The No. 1-seeded Vols have mowed through opponents and closed tight games this season, putting down more expectations to bring the program its first piece of hardware since the 2005 squad topped the then-MPSA ranks. The anticipation leading up to today’s 3 p.m. kickoff at the Starkville Sportsplex hasn’t rattled the team down the stretch. Artie Cosby’s squad is built around nine seniors, which is why he feels his team needs no talking to about avoiding a letdown.
TUPELO — The game plan didn’t change. The pregame speech didn’t change. The only thing that changed Tuesday night was the degree of discipline and the level of execution the Columbus High School boys basketball team delivered. As a result, the Falcons will live to play again. Bobby Wrench and Akeem Toppin scored 16 points each to lead Columbus to a 62-59 victory against Tupelo in the Class 6A, Division 2, District 4 tournament at Tupelo High School.
BENTON –– Taylor Baudoin scored a game-high 24 points and had 16 rebounds, five assists, and six steals Tuesday to lead the Immanuel Christian Lady Rams past Tri-County Academy 58-33 in the MAIS Class A North Central State Tournament. Immanuel (18-12) outscored Tri-County each quarter and led 14-10, 24-12, and 39-24 at the quarter breaks. Also for the Lady Rams, Bailey Edwards had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three steals, and Abby Good had eight points and seven rebounds.
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.
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.
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.
Three student-athletes who are familiar with success in high school will try to reach similar levels in college. Ryan Hollivay, Kelli Petty, and Blake Roberts signed scholarships Wednesday to continue their athletic careers at the next level.
When Bubba Davis has established the Columbus High School football program as a winner, he can look back on the 2009 season and thank Chris Jackson and Rickey Knox.
WEST POINT — Dressed in maroon sweatshirts, West Point High School seniors Michael Carr and Curtis Virges honored their verbal commitments and signed scholarships Wednesday to play football at Mississippi State.
MACON — Vincent Sanders is set to join a fellow Noxubee County High School playmaker in Oxford, while seven of his teammates are headed to junior college power East Mississippi Community College.
STARKVILLE — The Itawamba Community College football program landed two Starkville High Yellow Jackets on National Signing Day, as wideouts Perez Young and Justin Rogers signed to become members of new coach Jon Williams’ first recruiting class.
Brandon Hill is ready to take the next step. If Hill would have had a pair of pads and clearance Wednesday, he would have hit the Mississippi State football practice fields to begin his career as a Bulldogs.
ABERDEEN — It would difficult to imagine any coach beaming brighter than Chris Duncan did Wednesday. Duncan’s delight in seeing six of his players sign scholarships to play football in college stems from how far the Aberdeen High School football program has come in a short amount of time.
STARKVILLE — The connection will continue. Mike Sullivan hopes the bond that Roy Miles and Will Goodwin pays equally valuable dividends for his Itawamba Community College men’s soccer team as it has for the Starkville Academy team.
ALICEVILLE, Ala. — After visiting Alabama State last weekend, Derrick Billups believes it’s the right place for him.
The Pickens Academy girls basketball team has won all 12 of its region games this season. Pickens County, of Carrollton, Ala., will attempt to continue that success this weekend when it plays in the Alabama Independent School Association Class AA, Region 2 Tournament at Marion, Ala.
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