Time doesn’t stop in life or in sports. As soon as one task or game ends, another is ready on the to-do list or a click away via the remote. But sometimes special moments force you to pause for a moment of reflection.
The beauty of having young, inexperienced players is coaches never know what they’re going to get. After falling behind 3-0 in the season opener to Winston Academy, Heritage Academy baseball coach Steve Hancock wasn’t sure how his team would respond.
At the beginning of the season, Pickens County High School boys basketball coach Russ Wallace didn’t envision his team being ranked No. 1 and making it to the Final Four. But that’s the case as Pickens County will play Sand Rock at 8:30 tonight in the Class 2A semifinals of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Final 48 State Basketball Tournament at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center in Birmingham, Ala.
CARROLLTON, Ala. — The trophy fits nicely in the hands of Tate Fuller, Catherine Johnson, and Callie Minor. With one of the nets from the team’s victory Friday against Lakeside Christian draped on the trophy’s basketball, the players’ reflections blurred together as Johnson held the trophy Monday for a picture.
STARKVILLE — This time, there would be no Greenville-Weston upset at The Beehive. Starkville High School guard Edward Townsel said he and his teammates had long put last year’s shocking loss to Greenville-Weston in the MHSAA Class 5A North State Tournament behind them. But with the way the Yellow Jackets played Saturday it seemed like there was some revenge on tap in their 80-63 win to clinch the Class 6A North State championship.
In the end, their hearts couldn’t be questioned. That was little solace Friday night to coach Drew McBrayer and the members of the New Hope High School boys basketball team, who were left shaking their heads at what could have been. Four and seven tenths, or was it 6.9 seconds? Did Johnathan Brandon foul Callaway High’s Deville Smith on the last-second 3-pointer? Those questions will haunt a game New Hope team for a long time because the Trojans weren’t satisfied with the answers they received on their home floor.
BALDWYN –– The West Lowndes Panthers were outscored only one quarter Friday, but that quarter was the difference as they suffered a 53-49 loss to West Bolivar in the semifinals of the MHSAA Class 2A North State Tournament. West Lowndes (19-7) was outscored 20-15 in the fourth quarter to suffer the season-ending loss. The Panthers took a 34-33 lead into the final period after the score was tied 12-12 at the end of the first quarter and 22-22 at halftime. West Lowndes was led in scoring by Demetrius Malone with 16 points and Tyquan Lucious with 15.
The Columbus High School powerlifting team is making progress. A year ago, the Falcons advanced four athletes to the North Half State meet. The number was a start for a program that was beginning to understand the benefits of weight training. This year, Columbus nearly doubled that number at the Region 1-6A meet on Feb. 12 at Calhoun City High. The Falcons placed seven competitors in the top three spots and finished with 43 points, just behind champion Tupelo (44 points).
The six teams that participated Saturday in the jamboree at Columbus High School couldn’t have asked for better weather to open their seasons. The spring-like temperatures only 13 days into the official start of Mississippi High School Activities Association baseball season provided a welcome setting for teams eager to get their seasons started later this week. And while some teams were ahead of others, the consensus is that everyone will get better with more time on the field.
The distance — three feet — is negligible. At one or two steps, most players travel that distance countless times in the blink of an eye during a game. But that three feet could turn out to play a big difference in Mississippi High School Activities Association fast-pitch softball this season. MHSAA teams will play on fields with pitching rubbers at 43 feet. Last year, the pitching rubbers were at 40 feet. It might take a blink of eye to cover the added three feet, but any added time players get to see pitches could help give them an advantage at the plate.
BALDWYN –– The West Lowndes Panthers pulled away in the second half Thursday to beat Williams-Sullivan 89-70 in the MHSAA Class 2A North State Tournament. West Lowndes (19-6) held a slim 42-38 halftime lead before outscoring Williams-Sullivan 20-12 in the third quarter and 27-20 in the fourth. “They played really well,” West Lowndes coach Herman Peters said. “They played well as a team. They played with great effort. It was spread out. It wasn’t like a one-person show.”
Pulling tires up and down a mile-long road might sound like a training tactic used for a Strongman competition. Zach Taylor isn’t there yet, but he used the specialized form of exercise to open his track and field season with a bang. Competing last week at the South Zone Indoor Championship in Baton Rouge, La., the Heritage Academy freshman finished first in the 60-meter dash (7.24 seconds) and fourth in the 200 (24.59) in the intermediate boys division.
STARKVILLE –– Stan Miller’s retirement has been put on hold for a second time, but this go around he has Starkville as the final destination. Miller has put off retirement to become the Athletic Director at Starkville High School. Once a Jersey City, N.J., high school baseball player, Miller made the trek to Florida to play junior college baseball before moving to Starkville to attend Mississippi State University.
Melissa Word wants the ball in the hands of LaPrecious Thompson at the end of the game. Not only does the Canton High School junior guard have a smooth handle, but she also has a sweet touch from the free-throw line.
The New Hope High School boys basketball team didn’t bowl anyone over Tuesday night with its offensive effort. But the Trojans threw all strikes on the defensive end.
STARKVILLE — Senior guard Edward Townsel scored 20 of his game-high 26 points in the second quarter to help the Starkville High School boys basketball team turn a 10-point deficit into a nine-point halftime lead en route to a 79-68 win against Grenada in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A North Half State Tournament.
Demetrius Malone wanted to make the most of his final home game in a West Lowndes High School boys basketball uniform. The senior shooting guard scored 24 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to lead West Lowndes past Broad Street 70-52 in the opening round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 2A North Half State Tournament.
JACKSON –– The Columbus High School boys basketball team couldn’t find a way to stop Dundrecous Nelson. Nelson, a University of Mississippi signee and member of The Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen team, poured in a game-high 37 points Tuesday to lead Murrah to a 70-58 victory in the opening round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A North State Tournament.
ABERDEEN — A poor first quarter and an even worse fourth quarter, which was fueled by a sterling performance by Rashad Pargo, proved to be the undoing for M.S. Palmer here Tuesday, as the Aberdeen High School boys basketball team posted a 76-61 victory in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 3A North Half State Tournament.
STARKVILLE — Starkville High School will look to its past for a new athletic director. Former SHS principal and current Arkansas High School administrator Dr. Stan Miller has been selected by Starkville School District Superintendent Judy Couey to replace Bill Lee, whose retirement becomes effective at the end of the school year.
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