A one-goal lead is the most dangerous advantage a team can have. The worst fear for coaches is the cushion can lead to a false sense of security and give the opposing team momentum to rally. The New Hope High School boys soccer team nearly made that adage come true Tuesday night. The Trojans used a penalty kick by Tanner Ryals late in the second half to tie Callaway, only to see the Chargers score the game-winner minutes later to steal a 2-1 victory in their Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A first-round North Half State playoff game at Trojan Field.
The New Hope High School boys soccer team wants to keep its historic season going. To do that, the Trojans will have to protect their home field at 5:30 p.m. today when they play host to Callaway in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North Half State playoffs.
Some players have a knack for making a difference on one end of the field. Whether it is with blazing speed or a deft touch, forwards and midfielders can wreak havoc on defenses. But defenders who have those skills often don’t attract the same accolades. Their satisfaction comes from the final zero on the scoreboard.
STARKVILLE — All the Starkville High School basketball teams need is energy and a little patience. The boys and girls teams showed Friday just how important intensity and effort will be to the rest of their seasons in two drastically different results. In the boys game, the Yellow Jackets had revenge as their motivation, and they didn’t disappoint. Rashad Perkins scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Gavin Ware added 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead Starkville past Tupelo 69-54.
GORDO, Ala. –– Nick Stewart made six 3-point field goals and scored 24 points Saturday to lead the Pickens County Tornadoes past Gordo 69-59 in the championship game of the Pickens County Tournament. The win was the 12th in a row for Pickens County (18-1). Also scoring in double figures for Pickens County was Deion Curry with 17 points.
STARKVILLE — Maybe this one will start a trend. The quality of play on display Saturday in the Starkville High-Starkville Academy boys soccer match at the Starkville Sportsplex certainly deserves a second chance. The fans and players are entitled to another meeting next season based solely on the result: a 2-2 tie that should help both teams prepare for the postseason.
The Sulligent High School girls basketball team expects to be well rested when it plays host to the Lamar County Tournament. Sulligent hasn’t played since Friday and doesn’t take the court again until it plays in the championship game of the tournament Saturday.
STARKVILLE — Starkville Academy interim baseball coach Shane Bazzell was being held in the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center Tuesday on charges of felony grand larceny. Bazzell was arrested Jan. 15 by the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office for allegedly stealing an all-terrain vehicle. No further details were available. Grand larceny entails the unlawful taking of over $500 in property. Bazzell was suspended indefinitely by Starkville Academy Jan. 17. The school released a statement from Headmaster Doc Stephens stating: “As would be the case with any employee, he will be suspended indefinitely until definitive information is acquired.” Starkville Academy assistant baseball coach Neal Henry has taken over as interim head coach for Bazzell.
CALEDONIA — Things were set up perfectly for the Caledonia High School boys soccer team. A victory in a penalty kick shootout at Amory High last week gave Caledonia the inside track on clinching the Class 4A, Division 3, District 1 title. But Morgan Mansfield has coached long enough to know that nothing in sports is guaranteed. In fact, Mansfield was concerned Monday after a lackluster practice that the Confederates wouldn’t be mentally prepared to deliver the same kind of focused effort they turned in at Amory High.
Ever since playing in his first match at the age of 4, Houston Walker has enjoyed playing soccer. He enjoyed playing in Columbus and Tupelo recreation soccer leagues and for six years as a member of the Columbus High School soccer team. With his high school career nearly completed, Walker will get to continue to play the sport he enjoys next season in college. Walker’s future came into focus Tuesday when he signed a scholarship to play soccer at Itawamba Community College in Fulton.
STARKVILLE -- Shay Bonner made four-of-four free throws in the final 15 seconds as the Starkville High School’s girls basketball team defeated rival West Point 60-53 on Tuesday night. After the Lady Yellow Jackets (13-4) took leads of 12-10 after the first quarter and 24-21 at halftime, the Lady Green Wave wrestled the advantage away to their favor at 40-39 after the third quarter. Bonner (12 points) made a basket with 1 minute and 20 seconds remaining in the game to break a 51-51 tie and then she made the free throws at the end to ice it.
STARKVILLE — Assists are just as good as goals to Frankie Jones. If pushed to give a preference, Jones isn’t going to deny he enjoys scoring goals a little bit more. But you wouldn’t know it by Jones’ performance so far this season. The Starkville Academy senior forward/midfielder notched four goals and four assists to help the Volunteers close the week with victories against Heritage Academy and Magnolia Heights. Jones’ efforts helped Starkville Academy improve to 7-0 on the season. For his accomplishments, Jones is The Commercial Dispatch Prep Player of the Week.
Defense is the engine that drives the New Hope High School boys basketball team. Former coach Robert Byrd helped perfect the formula of in-your-jersey pressure and relentless effort. Those ingredients ultimately paid off for Rashanti Harris, Dale Hughes and the rest of the Trojans in a Class 4A state title in 2008. The Trojans showcased those same skills last season. An undersized and inexperienced team used grit and resolve to rack up a 25-6 record before it lost to eventual Class 4A state champion Callaway in the third-place game of the North Half State tournament in Jackson.
The district race in one half of Class 5A, Region 2, District 1 got a little closer Friday night. Junior Kelsei Ewings scored a game-high 27 points to lead a three-pronged attack that helped the West Point High School girls basketball team beat New Hope 66-58 in Columbus. In the boys game, Johnathan Brandon had a game-high 21 points to lead New Hope to a 53-45 victory.
A talented class of senior baseball players at New Hope High School made its first mark on the college game Friday afternoon. East Mississippi Community College’s Tony Montgomery and Wallace State College’s Randy Putnam hope to be the beneficiaries. Montgomery signed infielder Philip Tice and pitcher/catcher Jake Upton to scholarships, while Putnam added pitcher/outfielder Jake Smith to the fold for the 2010-11 season.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School’s Alvaro Pichardo couldn’t wait to get back onto the soccer field after losing to Tupelo High last week. Starkville’s 3-1 loss to the Golden Wave in a Class 6A, Division 2 match left a bad taste in Pichardo’s mouth. On Friday night, Pichardo took out his frustration on Columbus High School’s boys soccer team. Pichardo scored the first and the last goal for the Yellow Jackets and had three total in a 7-1 victory.
ABERDEEN — The Aberdeen High School Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs and West Point Lady Green Wave and Okolona Chieftains posted first-round wins Thursday to advance to Saturday’s championship games of the Aberdeen Invitational Tournament. Aberdeen’s boys slipped past West Point 57-53 in the closest contest of the opening round, while the Lady Bulldogs beat West Lowndes 71-48 to assure the host teams a spot in the championship games. The West Point girls grabbed a spot opposite Aberdeen in the finals by beating Okolona 72-38, and Okolona’s boys will face the Bulldogs in the boys’ final by virtue of an 80-57 win against West Lowndes.
The Lamar County and Sulligent high school boys basketball teams are getting quite familiar with one another this season. The teams have already played twice and they meet again Friday in Vernon, Ala. The teams played at Sulligent on Saturday.
STARKVILLE -- Columbus High School girls basketball coach Yvonne Hairston wasn’t surprised to see a senior pull down the game-securing rebound. When Jessica Richardson came down with the rebound as the final buzzer sounded to give the Lady Falcons a 72-71 victory against Starkville High School, Hairston was happy to see the turn of events. Hairston has come to expect Richardson to be in the right place at the right time.
Tuesday night was an appetizer, albeit one served on a cold, crunchy surface. Despite the conditions, the New Hope and Columbus high school girls and boys soccer coaches were pleased with what they saw from their teams in one of the final non-district matches of the season. Morgan Hardin scored two goals to lead the New Hope girls to a 4-2 victory, while the Columbus boys used two first-half goals to edge New Hope 2-1 in the nightcap.
1. New Hope baseball advances in playoffs HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Prep Softball: Caledonia advances in playoffs HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. MSU's Smith anticipates draft call COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Bulldogs land game changer in Newman COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Prep Baseball: Starkville falls in Class 6A playoffs HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS