PHEBA -- Focus is a key for Payton Griffin. The Hebron Christian senior probably has heard his father, Todd, stress the importance of being mentally ready more than a few times in his high school career. Whether it has been in football, basketball, or baseball, that focus has helped Payton and his teammates achieve their share of success in all three sports.
Commitment. Through all of the ups and downs, Anthony King could look at eight athletes who were with him Monday and say they almost did the unthinkable.
STEENS -- The numbers were scratched on a white sheet of paper and fastened to a clipboard. The athletes were situated under a tent that was placed under some trees to provide plenty of shade and a place to relax. Even though Columbus Christian Academy boys track and field coach Greg Watkins had done nearly everything he could do, he still felt anxious. After all, a state championship was on the line, so he had to make sure his athletes were staying off their feet and resting and hydrating. When you're competing for a title and have plenty of time between events, you tend to repeat yourself.
For most of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A playoffs, New Hope High School had been looking for its offense.
STARKVILLE -- Simpson Academy's baseball season changed in about an hour's time Tuesday night. Down five runs to Starkville Academy, Simpson Academy scored the final seven runs, including a walk-off home run, to take the lead in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA second-round playoff series.
STEENS -- Defense isn't an afterthought to RJ DeLoach or Jaborris Frazier. Lessons from their fathers early in their basketball career helped the Columbus Christian Academy players to understand the importance of playing on both ends of the court. Columbus Christian boys basketball coach Greg Watkins appreciates everything DeLoach and Frazier learned because he, too, stresses defense and knows it often is the difference in a team's ability to win a championship.
Bradley Tate usually trusts his gut feelings. But after two days of competition at Diamondhead's Cardinal Course, Tate just might want to re-assess how much faith he puts into his intestinal instincts because the Caledonia High School boys golf team proved them to be a little off.
Cathedral High School senior catcher Zach Flattmann felt he had his best round of batting practice Wednesday night at Trip Carson Field. Unfortunately for Heritage Academy, Flattmann kept up his hitting display during the game. Flattmann's two-run home run kick-started the scoring in Cathedral's 6-0 victory against Heritage Academy 6-0 in Game 1 of a best-of-three series in the second round of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA playoffs.
CALEDONIA -- Jantsen Glasgow and Jared Reed-Wood have shared plenty of successful moments on the baseball field. On Wednesday, it was time for the Caledonia High School seniors to share in a celebration that finalized their plans to continue their athletic careers in college.
Thomas Cooper wishes he could explain it. From his perspective, he isn't doing anything out of the ordinary when he takes the field. Cooper isn't a rah-rah guy who causes people to turn their heads because he is the loudest on his team.
STARKVILLE -- All Travis Garner could do was shake his head. The Starkville High School baseball coach strongly believes in a team not beating itself and giving itself great opportunities to win. For most of the year, that's what his Yellow Jackets did.
CALEDONIA -- Caledonia High School softball second baseman Makayla Taylor knows when her squad started believing it could win a state championship.
WEST POINT -- West Point High School rising junior Marcus Murphy went from an unknown to one of the state's top quarterback prospects last season. During his sophomore season, Murphy competed for the starting job and won the respect of the team's upperclassmen. Along the way, Murphy ran for 1,615 yards, threw for 770, and scored 25 touchdowns.
MENDENHALL -- The Starkville Academy baseball team might replay some of the final moments from the last three innings of their game against Simpson Academy on Tuesday night. But the Volunteers don't have long to dwell in the past because they will need to rebound with two wins if they want to make it to the next round of the postseason.
TUPELO -- It was natural for Jason Garrett to break into a jog.
STARKVILLE -- Despite taking only one person to state last season, Steven Griffin was encouraged. The Starkville High School boys track and field coach carried Patton Little to the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A state meet last season, where Little finished first in the 1,600 meters. This season, Griffin felt the Yellow Jackets were going to have even more success.
STARKVILLE -- After leaving Meridian in November, Jacey Williams didn't know what was in her future. The Starkville Academy girls soccer player tried out for the Meridian Community College team, but she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee and was left thinking her playing days were over.
Syboris Pippins, Courtney Stovall, and the rest of the West Lowndes High School boys track and field team weren't going to let a few holes in the team's lineup prevent it from getting a clean sweep. Buoyed by a strong showing from Pippins in the sprints, from Stovall in the distance events, and a 1-2-3 showing in the 110-meter hurdles, West Lowndes continued its run of success Saturday by winning the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A South State title at Madison Central High.
Pitching and defense have been integral parts of the New Hope High School baseball team's championship tradition for years. If Noah Brock and Peyton Buckner continue dealing like they have been for the past two weeks, the Trojans just might be able to entertain title hopes after a third-place finish in their region in the regular season.
STARKVILLE -- Jarrod Parks really liked his personnel when he took over the Starkville Academy baseball team. But the former Mississippi State standout admits he knew practically nothing about the baseball teams in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools.
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