As the close losses mounted in January, New Hope High School boys basketball coach Drew McBrayer never lost confidence in his team. One of the preseason favorites to compete for a Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A championship, the Trojans had to fight through a series of tough losses in a difficult schedule. McBrayer feels like his team learned from those opportunities and can put that knowledge to use tonight when New Hope plays host to the Class 5A, Region 2 tournament.
Columbus High School boys basketball coach Gary Griffin is ready for the payoff. While playing a difficult non-region schedule, Griffin stressed the challenges were designed to help his young squad be at its best when postseason play arrived.
JaQuante Bell is excited about the next step. It doesn't bother the New Hope High School senior that he likely is going to have to change a few things, but that is part of the excitement because Bell is confident he can be even more of an all-around player. Bell will get a chance to prove that next season when he suits up for the Northeast Mississippi Community College men's basketball team. Bell made his decision official Thursday in a signing ceremony in the school's library.
STEENS -- RJ Deloach doesn't consider himself a true scorer. That doesn't mean Deloach can't morph into one when the opportunity presents itself. "Defense is my strong suit," Deloach said. "When I get the ball, I'm pass first, but if I see a lane, I'm going to attack it." Deloach did plenty of attacking from the start Thursday night, scoring 14 points in the first quarter in the Columbus Christian Academy boys basketball team's 64-19 rout of Winona Christian Academy in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AA, District 2 tournament.
CARROLLTON, Ala. -- The Pickens Academy girls basketball team has impeccable timing. The only thing Wade Goodman could have wished for was a few more made free throws to make the final minutes of the 2016-17 season a little easier to handle. But Pickens Academy used a 16-point, 12-rebound effort from junior Olivia Lewis to beat South Choctaw Academy 39-36 on Saturday in the championship game of the Alabama Independent School Association Class AA State tournament in Montgomery, Alabama.
Things couldn't have worked out any better for Brandon Jones.
Whenever Heritage Academy and Starkville Academy meet in just about any sport, it is expected that the game will go right down to the wire.
STARKVILLE -- There are not many kickers like Sam Cox.
The growth in the Columbus High School football team continues. Buoyed by the signing of Kylin Hill (Mississippi State) and Tahj Sykes (Southern Mississippi) to Division I scholarship offers, coach Randal Montgomery's Falcons sent seven players to college as part of a National Signing Day ceremony in the school's library Wednesday morning.
Tae-Kion Reed didn't give the bystanders any warning. If the New Hope High School senior had, those people sitting across from the signing table would have known to sit back and wait for him to throw the Mississippi State hat.
MACON -- Noxubee County High School football coach Tyrone Shorter is quick with the statistics. "We are No. 3 in the state with the number of former players we have playing junior college and senior college ball around the state," Shorter said. "These young men receive a free education, and if you don't make the National Football League, you have a degree to fall back on. My message has always been the same: Use football and don't let football use you."
STARKVILLE -- The Starkville High School signing Class of 2017 was a lot more than Willie Gay. In addition to the four-star linebacker who signed with Mississippi State, five other Yellow Jackets signed National Letters of Intent on National Signing Day to play football at the next level.
Potential is perfect word to use for someone like Tyrese Wells. At 6-foot-1 1/2, 260 pounds, Wells has room to grow into his frame. Considering Wells is only 17 years old, the explosiveness he showcased as a senior with the West Lowndes High School football team made college coaches notice.
STARKVILLE -- On Sunday night, four-star linebacker Willie Gay sat down and looked at a Mississippi State hat, a LSU hat, and a Michigan hat. He thought hard about where he thought he be most comfortable and then made a decision. On Monday night, Gay sent LSU coach Ed Orgeron and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh text messages and told them the news: He was staying home to play at Mississippi State.
WEST POINT -- West Point High School football coach Chris Chambless had two favorite days this season. "Winning a state championship is always special," Chambless said. "My favorite day each year is signing day because it is an opportunity to see some young men have a chance at a free education and to continue playing the game they love. We have been fortunate to have a good number of players sign. We take pride in that as a program. This day ranks right up there with championship day."
CALEDONIA -- The Itawamba Community College football program found Caledonia High School to be an ideal one-stop recruiting destination. As a result, four of the 29 seniors on the Caledonia High football team will get a chance to continue their careers at the next level. On Wednesday, quarterback Spencer Unruh, running back Zion Ford, wide receiver Jamel Thomas, and kicker Caleb Comer joiner linebacker Kody White (Lyon College) and tight end/H-back/linebacker Russ Smither (Delta State) in signing National Letters of Intent as part of National Signing Day.
Team leaders bring people together. Meredith Woolbright doesn't know exactly how she does it, but she acknowledges she has a knack for making friends and relating to teammates. Whether it is with a smile or with a little constructive criticism or motivation, Woolbright can find the right way to deliver a message that helps an individual or her team.
STARKVILLE -- Jariyah Covington has a good memory. The Starkville High School junior has plenty of good ones she can call on when she wants to reflect on the girls basketball team's back-to-back runs to the Final Four of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A State tournament.
CALEDONIA -- Garrett Parish remembers the Caledonia High School boys soccer team talking about making the playoffs before the 2016-17 season started. It didn't matter to Parish or co-captain and senior classmate Quaid Phillips -- or any of the other Confederates for that matter -- that the team had a new coach, Louis Alexander, who was bound to change some things. That didn't bother Parish, Phillips, and the team's other four seniors because they wanted to close their careers in style, so their hope was to help the team advance as far in the postseason as possible.
WEST POINT -- Greg Watkins couldn't remember the last time his team earned a victory at Oak Hill Academy before Thursday night. The Columbus Christian Academy boys basketball coach doesn't have to worry about that anymore after RJ DeLoach scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed six rebounds to lead the team to a 70-47 victory on Oak Hill Academy's Senior Night.
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