The heat didn't bother Danté Oliver and Jelisha Hackman. Forced to return Monday to compete in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A and 6A meets in sweltering conditions, Oliver and Hackman made the most of their opportunities.
CRAWFORD -- Arthur Gillespie wasn't sure if he should wear his three gold medals to school Monday after winning a trio of events and helping East Oktibbeha to a third-place finish at the Class 1A state track meet. Modest, quiet, and unassuming, Gillespie thought it might be overkill because the entire student body would know what he and the Titans did Friday in Pearl. He wore them anyway.
STARKVILLE -- Kala Williams had a tough decision to make about where she'd play college basketball. But when East Mississippi Community College coach Sharon Thompson showed up Monday to Starkville High with a red and black No. 23 jersey, she knew she was home.
Second chances don't come often enough in life. So when Deonata Jethroe tore the anterior cruciate and the medial collateral ligaments in his right knee, he thought his basketball career was "over."
HAMILTON -- In 1903, pitcher Joe "Iron Man" McGinty more than lived up to his nickname when he notched complete game victories in both games of a doubleheader three times in the month of August. Bruce High School senior pitcher Caleb Hanley will probably never get the opportunity to play in the Major Leagues, but his pitching exploits this week certainly qualify him as a prep "Iron Man." Thanks to the arm of Hanley, Bruce has advanced to the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 2A state championship series at Trustmark Park in Pearl.
STARKVILLE -- Looking back on his football career, Chuck Tillery believes his broken ankle was a blessing in disguise. When Tillery suffered the injury in the week of practice prior to Starkville High School's season-opener against Noxubee County, he didn't know it would cost him half his senior season and the extra repetitions needed to show scouts more of his talent. Despite rejuvenating the Yellow Jackets offense when he returned, his lone offer came from Arkansas State.
STARKVILLE -- It didn't take long for Starkville Academy to find a boys basketball coach to replace Clay Stringer. Former Harrison Central High School assistant Chris Lyle was hired as Starkville Academy's coach Friday afternoon. After meeting with athletics director Glenn Schmidt on Wednesday, Lyle accepted the job Thursday night and will begin his first head coaching position just four years into the profession. He replaces Stringer, who accepted the principal position at Hillcrest Christian.
PEARL -- Noxubee County High School's Jasmine Little won the shot put Saturday at the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A State meet. The Class 2A and Class 6A meets also were scheduled, but weather forced all three meets to be postponed until 2 p.m. Monday. The Class 4A girls shot put was one of the few events that was completed. Noxubee County High coach Tyrone Shorter said Little won the event with a throw of more than 36 feet.
It didn't take long for Starkville Academy to find a boys basketball coach to replace Clay Stringer as Harrison Central assistant Chris Lyle was named head coach Friday afternoon.
HAMILTON -- With two perfect games and a pair of one-hitters to his credit, the pressure on Hamilton High School pitcher Dylan Earnest to match or exceed his more recent exploits can often times be overwhelming. That pressure dissipated rather quickly Thursday after Bruce High School uncharacteristically touched the senior lefthander for two first-inning hits -- the second of which was a two-run homer by cleanup hitter Caleb Hanley -- en route to 2-0 lead just four batters into the game. Undaunted by falling behind, Earnest quickly reverted back to his usual form and went on to toss six innings of shutout baseball en route to a 6-2 win in the opening game of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 2A North State series.
Turnovers are devastating in any season. A good team makes you pay for them in the spring, too. Buoyed by a strong running attack, the Noxubee County High School football team capitalized on four turnovers to beat New Hope 28-20 in the spring finale for both teams. The result helped Tyrone Shorter, who was officially approved Monday to replace M.C. Miller as the program's new coach, begin his tenure in style against a Class 5A team that has plenty of returning talent from last season when it advanced to the North Half State title game.
STARKVILLE -- The hectic time period the Starkville High Yellow Jackets have gone through under a new head coach will conclude when they play Brandon and Forest Hill in tonight's jamboree at Jackson's Newell Field. For the past three weeks, the Jackets have beat up each other while trying to learn new systems on both sides of the ball and head coach Jamie Mitchell's practice tempo. The first-year Jackets head coach admits there are "loose ends" that still need to be tied up, but he believes the team is on course with where he wanted it to be heading into tonight's 5 p.m. start.
CALEDONIA -- Sarah Guess thought her track and field season would be finished by now. Before the start of her sophomore campaign at Caledonia High School, Guess targeted reaching the Class 4A North Half State meet. In her second year throwing the discus, she figured that would be an attainable goal. Guess' performance Saturday at the North Half State meet at Pontotoc forced her to re-assess her goals.
CRAWFORD -- Two years ago, East Oktibbeha High School didn't have a track program. Saturday, the Titans have a chance to win a state track title. A district title and runner-up regional and Class 1A South State finishes have positioned the Titans to bring the school its first state title -- regardless of sport -- since the girls and boys basketball teams each won state crowns in 2007. Head coach Randy Brooks jump-started the program last year, and with a small group of freshmen sprinters totaled nine points at the state meet last season.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High's girls' track team heads to Pearl with less representatives than usual, but the Lady Jackets could end up with more individual titles than they did in last year's seventh place finish at the state meet. The Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A North State meet yielded just four state qualifiers for fourth-year head coach Mitchell Evans, but the Starkville graduate is banking on experience to push the five-runner team to a solid finish.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. ---- The South Lamar High School softball team earned a berth in the Final Four of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class A State Tournament by winning two games Thursday. South Lamar put its back to the wall with a 4-1 loss to Pleasant Home in its opening game of the double-elimination tournament, but kept its quest for a state championship alive by beating Sweet Water 10-0 in five innings and Waterloo 1-0. South Lamar (37-12) advanced in the tournament at Lagoon Park to play Ariton at 10:30 a.m. today.
Michael Bradley doesn't want past success to go to his players' heads. The New Hope High School football team has lost to the eventual state champion (Noxubee County in Class 4A in 2008, West Point in Class 5A in '09) the past two seasons.
HAMILTON - At most high schools, winning division titles, playing in North Half title series, and competing for state championships are the stuff of dreams. That's not the case at Hamilton High School, however, where the baseball team has garnered more than its share of championships in the past 16 years.
STARKVILLE -- Sometimes, your next direction comes from a divine source. Clay Stringer's faith in God presented him with an opportunity he has relished since he became a high school teacher and coach. And as tough as the decision to leave Starkville Academy was, Stringer followed his heart and accepted a position to be principal at Hillcrest Christian School.
Bruce Branch can't wait to get started. The 2010 baseball season recently ended for Heritage Academy, but Branch, who was hired as the school's new head coach Tuesday, is already rearing to go. "I am excited for the opportunity," Branch said. "I am kind of overwhelmed. I am trying to take it all in."
1. New Hope baseball team beats Lewisburg in Game 1 HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Oak Forest (La.) takes Game 1 from Starkville Academy HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Wilson goes extra for Oak Hill Academy baseball HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. MSU baseball has little margin for error COLLEGE SPORTS
5. MSU softball looks to end skid at SEC tournament COLLEGE SPORTS