BRANDON –– The New Hope High School boys basketball team had five players score in double figures Tuesday in a 68-58 victory against Northwest Rankin in the Northwest Rankin Classic.
HATTIESBURG -- The Starkville High School boys basketball team showed Monday at the Hattiesburgh Holiday Classic why it’s considered the top-ranked team in Mississippi. The Yellow Jackets, ranked No. 1 by The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, jumped out to a 21-3 lead against Brookhaven after the first quarter and went on to a 70-41 victory at Watkins Gymnasium. Starkville (11-0) held a 34-15 advantage at halftime and even though Brookhaven competed better in the second half, it couldn’t make up the huge deficit.
WEST POINT — Dennis Allen had a dream to sell. Problem was, not many people, even friends, were willing to come to West Point High School to help transform a football program that had fallen on hard times. So Allen thought back to a golf outing in Ackerman when he met Chris Chambless. At the time, Chambless was in his first season at Caledonia High, and was known for his prowess as a defensive coach.
Playmakers share so many things. Whether its speed, strength, endurance, or a burning desire to be the best, their ability to change a game with one touch of the football makes them special. Michael Carr and Vincent Sanders share all of those traits and more. The West Point High School and Noxubee County High seniors also bring a confidence to the field that allows them to deliver game-changing plays on offense or defense.
It was a year to remember for the Lamar County and Pickens County high school football teams. Both teams made runs for a state title and came up a game shy of playing each other in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A state championship game. Lamar County tied a school record for most wins in a season in Ken Adams’ third season as coach. Pickens County made the state semifinals in Scott Marchant’s first year as a head coach.
Michael Bradford’s goal was to be a leader on the offensive side of the ball for the Lamar County High School football team. The senior quarterback emerged as that leader and led Lamar County to a season to remember. With Bradford leading the way, Lamar County equalled a school record for the most wins in a season with 13 and made it to the semifinals of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A playoffs.
Going into this past high school football season, Pickens County coach Scott Marchant asked junior Deion Curry to play a demanding position on defense. Marchant wanted to use Curry as a hybrid where he lined up at linebacker and safety. Marchant wanted to exploit Curry’s talents in stopping the run and defending the pass, depending on the situation.
Jamerson Love’s ability to fight through adversity has paid dividends. After getting off to a difficult start at Aberdeen High School three years ago, Love found the right way to go and went from occasional trouble-maker to a go-to player for coach Chris Duncan and the Bulldogs. For his accomplishments this season, Love, who helped Aberdeen to the Class 3A North State championship, is The Commercial Dispatch Small Schools Offensive Player of the Year. He thanked God for the opportunity to be player of the year and said improving his leg strength enabled him to play offense and defense.
Josh Poe had something to prove at West Oktibbeha High School. At 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, Poe knew he wasn’t going to have anything given to him and was going to have to earn his spot as linebacker. West Oktibbeha coach Adam Lowrey was reluctant at first to give Poe the chance, but once he saw him in action, the reservations vanished.
Chris Duncan had to endure a full schedule Fridays during football season. Splitting time as a coach and minister, Duncan would leave home in Calhoun County as early as 4:30 or 5 a.m. to deliver a tape of his radio show to the station, before going to Aberdeen High School. His day didn’t end when school was out because he had to coach the Bulldogs in a football game that night.
AMORY — The welcoming line extended almost out the door of the media center. If Trent Hammond didn’t understand how passionate Amory is about its high school football team, he grasped that concept after more than 40 minutes of shaking hands and talking with well-wishers Monday afternoon after being formally introduced as the school’s head football coach. Hammond, who was the head coach at Franklin County the past two seasons, was approved to be hired Friday by the Amory School Board. He replaces Pat Byrd, who earlier this month left the school to become head football coach at Saltillo High.
The relationship was forged in Starkville Area Youth basketball. The legacy started in the sixth grade with a point guard and a center. Edward Townsel, the guard, was just as fast. Rashad Perkins, the center, was just as tough, but no, he couldn’t dunk. Fast forward to Saturday night. Townsel and Perkins have used years of playing together and developed an ability to sense what the other is going to do on the basketball court.
Joe Horne is smiling. The former Columbus High School teacher and scorekeeper, who passed away in 2003, would have loved the atmosphere Friday at Saturday at the 13th annual Columbus Christmas Invitational that has been named in his honor. Not only was there a packed house both days for the 16-game event, but the fans also had a chance to watch some of the region’s best talent.
STARKVILLE — Artie Cosby knew a long time ago Tiffany Huddleston was going to be a standout in sports. Cosby coached Huddleston in T-Ball when she was 5 or 6 and saw how advanced she was even at that age. While it’s common for many players not to be able to throw or to catch very well, Huddleston, the team’s first baseman and only girl, had the best glove, bat, and throwing arm.
Sadly, chest-pounding, trash-talking athletes who utilize flamboyant gestures while playing the “look-at-me” game to the hilt are all-to-often the norm today. Today, it’s almost inconceivable someone who has been described by friend and foe alike as a “powerful, explosive player” who has the ability to demolish her opponents at the net can, at the same time, be a reticent, humble, and somewhat shy individual who is uncomfortable when thrust into the limelight.
The Starkville High School boys basketball came up with one more big play with the game on the line. The result could have been a statement of even better things to come. Rashad Perkins blocked a shot in the lane by Jalen Courtney with 5.5 seconds remaining to preserve a one-point lead and then made a steal on the ensuing play to help Starkville hold on to beat previously unbeaten and No. 1 Provine 81-79 on Saturday in the final game of the 13th annual Joe Horne Columbus Christmas Invitational.
Columbus High School girls basketball Yvonne Hairston likes what her team can become. With freshmen Keke Patterson and Maggie Proffitt in the starting lineup, the Lady Falcons have players who can be the foundation of a program. The Joe Horne Christmas Classic provided those players a learning experience.
Geonte’ Richardson was given the green light by his coach to shoot the 3-pointer. He didn’t hold anything back Saturday. Richardson hit three from long range in the first quarter to help the East Oktibbeha High School boys basketball team build a 12-point lead en route to a 65-54 victory against Holt (Ala.) High at the 13th annual Joe Horne Columbus Christmas Invitational.
On the surface, the Noxubee County High School basketball teams have a lot going for them. The Tigerettes enter the next to last week of 2009 at 8-3, while the Tigers are 8-4. But Noxubee County High basketball coach T.J. Billups doesn’t want the players on both teams to be fooled into thinking they have accomplished anything or that those records mean they are certified as good teams.
STARKVILLE — Lyndsey Haynes doesn’t miss softball yet. The Starkville Academy pitcher admits she has reflected on her senior season and thought about what could have been after the Lady Volunteers finished third at the North Half State tournament. A change in the playoff format this season meant that showing wasn’t good enough by one place to push Starkville Academy into the overall Mississippi Association of Independent Schools AAA state tournament.