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.
CARROLLTON, Ala. — Callie Minor didn’t know what was going on. Minor wanted only the best for her senior season at Pickens Academy, so it was natural for her to expect a lot from herself.
It was one and done for Robin Tyra as the football coach at Aliceville High School in Aliceville, Ala.
SENATOBA –– Will Swedenburg scored 18 points Saturday afternoon to lead the Heritage Academy boys basketball team past Magnolia Heights 60-40. Tyler White scored 15 points for Heritage Academy, which improved to 18-8. Heritage Academy trailed 15-11 after the first quarter, but rallied to tie the score 21-21 at halftime and take a 44-27 lead at the end of the third period.
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