Roosevelt Bridges knows the road back to Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson isn't going to be easy.
Columbus High School boys basketball coach Sammy Smith knows his team can deliver a better effort than it gave Tuesday night in the opening round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A, Region 3 tournament.
WEST POINT -- His team needed a play, so Willie Ousley made one. And when the New Hope High School boys basketball team needed free throws down the stretch to close a Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A, Region 1 tournament win against Saltillo, Ousley did that, too. With New Hope protecting a one-point lead late in its first-round game Tuesday night, Saltillo had the ball and a chance to take the lead with less than 30 seconds remaining. But the Tigers were a bit out of control with the basketball and Ousley seized the opportunity.
STARKVILLE -- Early in the second quarter, Starkville High School senior Raphael Leonard leaped through the air, snagged a loose basketball, and threw it over his back to a waiting teammate. Seconds later, the improbable save led to an easy basket. Leonard made several similar catches in a standout career at wide receiver for the school's football team. On Tuesday night, he was clearing a baseline instead of a goal line, but his effort epitomized the grit and determination of all of his teammates. A lightning-fast start carried Starkville past Columbus 62-49 in an opening-round game of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A, Region 3 tournament being at Starkville High.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School sophomore center Kelsey Jones knew her team needed a lift Tuesday night. Jones stepped up and provided it. Scoring nine points in a five-minute stretch of the fourth quarter, Jones helped Starkville work its way past Madison Central 47-28 in an opening-round game of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A, Region 3 tournament Tuesday night at Starkville High.
STARKVILLE -- Columbus High School girls basketball coach Yvonne Hairston knew her team was capable of winning its opening game in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A, Region 3 tournament. Still, there is no way she could have envisioned victory happening the way it did. Down three points in the final minute of the second half, Columbus went on a 27-0 run to defeat Northwest Rankin 69-39 in the tournament's opening game Tuesday at the Starkville High.
WEST POINT -- For the better part of two seasons, junior guard Quiyon Bailey has meant everything to West Point High School girls basketball team. West Point coach Dashmond Daniel admits the Lady Green Wave have relied on Bailey a little too much. "Last year, it seemed like the rest of our team would be a little timid about it. They'd get her the ball and just try to get out of the way," Daniel said. "She's still a great player, but the rest of our girls have realized this is a team effort, and it has made us a better basketball team."
STEENS -- Defense is a source of confidence for Alec Vasquez. It's not that the Columbus Christian Academy junior doesn't like to score. It's just that Vasquez believes his team has plenty of other players who can fuel the offense, so his efforts on defense help balance things. But if the Rams need Vasquez to pitch in and contribute on offense, he is more than willing to step in and lend a hand.
Last Wednesday, Starkville High School football coach Jamie Mitchell looked like a tired man.
STARKVILLE --Mississippi State third baseman Caroline Seitz joked that she might wear Katie Anne Bailey's batting helmet and swing her bat for the rest of the weekend.
STARKVILLE -- When Jody Britt took over the Starkville Academy baseball program two years ago, he knew a talented junior class would help the Volunteers turn the corner. After a season together, a talented senior class is ready to carry Starkville Academy to an elite level in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools. At the same time, these Volunteers are preparing for the next level.
New Hope High School no longer is a name associated only with baseball, softball, basketball, football, and girls golf. In the past six years, the New Hope High girls soccer team has made a steady climb up the ladder of respectability. In 2010, the program made its first playoff appearance. New Hope earned what coach Mary Nagy believes was its first playoff victory a year later (against Oxford). The team won first-round playoff matches the next two seasons as it matured, but it couldn't get past Ridgeland in the second round. Last season, New Hope beat Oxford to clear that hurdle against Oxford and then defeated Lewisburg to advance to its first state title match, where it lost to West Jones 2-0.
PHEBA -- Sophomore Rebekah Falkner does a little bit of everything for the Hebron Christian School girls basketball team. A scorer, a distributor, a top-notch defender, and a team leader, Falkner rarely runs out of ways to affect a game for the Lady Eagles (15-4). But she gets stumped when asked to describe what makes her game so unstoppable. "I don't know," Falkner said. "I just love playing basketball."
STARKVILLE -- When the Victory Christian Academy boys basketball team trailed eight points and went into the break trailing Starkville Christian School on Friday night, coach Brent Harris didn't show concern. Harris, in his eighth year at the helm, looked stoic with his arms folded as he took short strides down the sideline. The Eagles had been there before and avoided disaster each time.
STARKVILLE -- The Starkville High School basketball teams finished Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A, Region 3 play on a strong note Friday with a doubleheader sweep of Madison Central. The Starkville girls finished 6-0 in region play thanks to a 62-40 victory. Starkville (19-4) won its seventh straight and clinched the top seed in the region tournament, which starts Feb. 17 at Starkville.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville Academy baseball player Harper Arnold knows a good opportunity when he sees it.
MACON -- Some coaches stop coaching their players after the final game of their senior seasons. Noxubee County High School coach Tyrone Shorter isn't like some coaches.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School senior wide receiver Raphael Leonard said there were a number of reasons for choosing to play senior college ball at Florida Atlantic.
WEST POINT -- Chris Humphries said he knew immediately. Humphries, a 6-foot-1, 290-pound offensive lineman from West Point High School, took an official visit to Mississippi College's campus in Clinton shortly after his high school season ended, all in an effort to find the right place to extend his football career. He found it.
Cody Cliett and Stephen Sykes don't regard injuries as obstacles that knock them off course. Instead, the Caledonia High School senior linemen have used setbacks they have suffered in their careers as motivation to help them arrive at their destinations of choice.
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