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SPORTS

REVIEW
Players of the Year
West Point’s Michael Carr
Aberdeen’s Jameika Hoskins

The Dispatch
All -Area Teams

Success, change and


determination characterize
Golden Triangle sports
2009-2010
Players of the Week

School Spirit: Band,


cheerleading squads
COMPLETE
TEAM COVERAGE
From Our Doctors
Charles S. Rhea, M.D. • Russell Linton, M.D. • Scott Jones, M.D.
and Chad Altmyer, M.D.

COLUMBUS
ORTHOPAEDIC CLINIC PA
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SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 ◆ THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 1
Faith
TABLE OF CONTENTS 37 Faith turned West Oktibbeha
around.

MOTIVATION
38 West Point looks to defend
state title in 2010.

Change
40 Playing in a new division breathes
new life into Oak Hill Academy.

Writing on the Wall


42 Tradition inspires Hebron
Christian’s district title dynasty.

Players of the Week


44 2009-10 Players of the Week
revisited.

Activities
47 Area bands and cheerleading
squads featured.

Players of the Year Perseverance DISPATCH ALL-AREA


4 Michael Carr and Jameika Hoskins
earn top honors.
24 Despite facilities, Caledonia track
one of the best in the state.
A breakdown of The Dispatch’s All Area
teams and Players of the Year.

Making their Mark Realizing Potential Volleyball


8 Columbus athletes reap benefits
of hard work, determination.
26 West Lowdnes’ Hill uses Keffer
McGee as motivation for success.
51 Jameika Hoskins dominates
with a humble attitude.

The Payoff Goal Goal Goal Softball


12 Heritage Academy’s Ford does a little
bit of everything in final year.
28 Soccer reigns supreme at MSMS.
52 Haynes, Atkins and Tutor lead
their softball teams.

SUCCESS Reinvention Soccer


14 New Hope highlights 2009-10 with
championships and eye to the future.
30 Starkville High fighting its way
back to the top.
54 Huddleston, Day, and
Shoemaker shine as top players.

Multitasking Dominance Football


20 Immanuel athletes show versatility
in competition.
33 Starkville Academy shows
its strength in soccer.
56 West Alabama, Small School, and
Large School athletes honored

Victory The Turning Point Basketball


22 Winning becoming the norm
at Victory Christian Academy.
36 One game set tone for East
Oktibbeha success.
66 West Alabama, Small School, and
Large School athletes honored

2 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010


SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 APARTMENT HOMES/COMMUNITY
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ABOUT
THE COVER
Dispatch staff photographer
Kelly Tippett took this photo
of West Point football player
Michael Carr, the Boys Player
of the Year, and Aberdeen’s
Jameika Hoskins, the multi-
sport athlete named Girls
Player of the Year.

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D O W N T O W N C O L U M B U S
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SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 ◆ THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 3
4 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
2010 BOYS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR

MICHAEL CARRMIDST ALL OF THE FESTIVITIES, MICHAEL CARR REMAINED CALM. The West

A Point High School senior welcomed the hoopla surrounding a 35-14 victory against
Wayne County that helped the football program win its sixth state title.
So while teammates, coaches, and lead West Point to a 14-1 record. Carr was it and celebrate telling Him I am very
friends and family let loose at Veterans the X-factor on a run-dominated team, thankful for winning a state champi-
Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Carr stayed making 38 catches for 832 yards and 16 onship,” Carr said.
humble. total touchdowns. He also intercepted one Carr believes that mind-set will drive
After all he had been through, Carr pass and had a 35-yard return, and him to even higher goals at MSU. The 6-
gave thanks to God because without His returned 15 punts for 415 yards, with a foot-1, 195-pounder feels he has something
help he wouldn’t have been able to realize longest return of 84 yards. to prove, even though he was a highly
the goal so many members of the Green All of those achievements helped pre- regarded recruit who chose the Bulldogs
Wave program before him had attained. pare Carr for the pageantry of winning a over the University of Mississippi Rebels.
“It wasn’t difficult,” Carr said of not get- state title. He said he was ready to cele- “People think I am just going for the
ting caught up in all of the hype after the brate beating Wayne County after the fame, but if I am going to give God the
game. “He has humbled me. It felt like I game, but he said he heard a voice from glory I have to shine,” Carr said. “I see big
had already won (a state championship) God deep down inside him that said to dreams and goals ahead. I just plan to
when I won it. I celebrated, I was happy for exercise restraint. keep working hard like I have been in
it, I was thankful for it, I was grateful for it, “He said, ‘It isn’t over yet.’ He told me high school, but I am going to multiply it
but I knew there was more to do to stay to stay humble,” Carr said. “I know I have and enhance it and do it better when I go
humble and go to the next level.” to get ready for the next level and enhance to college.
The championship helped Carr solidify the talent He has given me.” “I have a lot to prove because you have
his position as one of the state’s elite ath- Carr hasn’t always had the patience to great athletes who worship God. But a lot
lete. He showcased his game-changing step back and look at the bigger picture. of them are taking His name in vain by not
ability against Wayne County by scoring He said Jesus Christ changed his life when living the lifestyle. I want to live the
on a 64-yard reception and on a 78-yard He touched him when he was 17. He said lifestyle, put His name first, and win. I want
kickoff return. He finished the game with God keeps him at peace and he is grateful to show them God is still alive.”
four catches for 128 yards. for all of the doors He has opened for him. Carr knows how God guided him
For his efforts, Carr is The Commercial “I always saw myself playing sports, but through his final season and allowed him
Dispatch’s Boys Player of the Year. I never saw myself giving Him the glory at to realize the fruits of his labor. He also
“It has been a great year,” Carr said. “It the end,” Carr said. “But when I had that realizes this season was the last step of
was hard work and dedication to the team. encounter with Jesus Christ, it changed one journey and the first step of another
I am still dedicated. Family is the main my whole lifestyle, the way I think, the way one. Carr knows how important it will be
thing that brought me through.” I move, and my inner self.” for him to stay humble as he prepares for
Carr signed a national letter of intent Carr attends church and thanks God those next steps, and he will celebrate God
earlier this year to make official the verbal for all of the things He has given him, with every move he makes.
commitment he made to Mississippi State which allow him to affect the sports world “You have to stay humble and work
as a junior. The No. 5 prospect in the state and the people in it. He joked that he hard, no matter how many touchdowns
regardless of position by Rivals.com was encouraged his teammates “to stay hum- you have in a game,” Carr said. “You have
recruited as an athlete, and he figures to ble” so many times this season they grew to push yourself harder than what you did
help the Bulldogs in the secondary or at tired of hearing him say it. the last practice. You also have to stay
wide receiver. But that doesn’t prevent Carr from pro- humble and keep God first. As long as you
The Mississippi Association of Coaches claiming how important his faith is to him. do that, you will go far in everything you
Class 5A All-State first-team pick helped “I give the glory to Him and I celebrate do.”n

story by ADAM MINICHINO photo by KELLY TIPPETT


2010 GIRLS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR

JAMEIKA HOSKINS
AMEIKA HOSKINS BELIEVED SHE HAD FOUND THE RIGHT FIT. Earlier this school

J year, the Aberdeen High School senior thought Alcorn State was going to be her college
destination.
But the more Hoskins considered her “She thought this is where she wanted basketball coach Latorrence Bivens,
choice she realized she wasn’t comfortable to go to play to take her game to another Aberdeen High boys basketball coach Roy
going that far from home to go to school level,” Gray said. “She has very high aspira- Hazzle and her youth coaches for helping
and to play basketball. tions. She wants to develop a couple of her get to this point. She especially praised
It’s not that Hoskins didn’t believe she more skills to contend for a scholarship coach Kim Clarett, a youth coach who
couldn’t play at the Division I level. In fact, from maybe a Southeastern Conference coached her when she was 8-12, and who
she would like to attract more attention school in our area.” still coaches a youth team in Aberdeen.
from bigger Division I schools, including Hoskins said she “felt at home” with the Bivens said Hoskins’ decision to go to
the ones in this state. coaches, players, and everything when she ICC will help “bring her out of her shell.”
Those aspirations are part of the reason went to ICC. She feels her stay at the
He feels confident Hoskins will be able to
Hoskins changed her mind last month and school will be just like an extended recruit-
rise to the challenge and take her game to
signed a national letter of intent to go to ing period in which she can play against
Itawamba Community College in Fulton. tougher competition and prove to coaches another level.
The short ride up Highway 45 North at four-year schools she has what it takes to “I think she will go to ICC and play right
should help Hoskins find the fit she is look- play at an even higher level in Division I. off the bat,” Bivens said. “If she stays injury
ing for after a standout senior season in She said it will help that her family and free it will happen because I know she is
which she was named The Commercial friends will be close by to support her. going to work. I think she is going to get a
Dispatch’s All-Area Volleyball and Small “My friends and family have always top Division I offer when she leaves
Schools Girls Basketball Player of the Year. been there since I started playing basket- because academically she is set and she
For her accomplishments, Hoskins is ball,” Hoskins said. “It is not only them has a strong mind.”
The Commercial Dispatch’s Girls Player of being there to watch me play. I think it is a Gray believes that will be the case, too.
the Year. good move for me. Alcorn State is too far She said she is anxious to see Hoskins
Hoskins intends to improve on her 21.7 out there for me. If I go to ICC and do mature into a player who is consistent for
points per game scoring average as a sen- everything I can and work on all my skills, longer stretches. She said there were times
ior with the Lady Indians. She might have I feel I can be at a better Division I school in her high school career Hoskins didn’t go
even continued to play volleyball, but ICC playing basketball.” all out for a whole game. That will change
doesn’t offer the sport. To make that happen, Hoskins feels she in college.
That’s fine with ICC women’s basketball needs to improve on her defense. She also “The kids are going to follow her and
coach Nanci Gray, who is excited to have said she will work hard to enhance her ball- pick up on her enthusiasm for the game
the Monroe County standout join her pro- handling skills, especially with her left
and her desire to be a better player,” Gray
gram. hand, and her mid-range game.
said. “That is huge for a coach anytime you
Gray said she watched Hoskins this sea- She said hopes to attract interest from
son and listened as fans and people who Mississippi State or the University of bring that into a program.
followed the Aberdeen High girls basket- Mississippi, but she isn’t limiting herself to “I think (getting a scholarship from a
ball program said Hoskins wanted to stay those two. SEC school) can be a reality. It will depend
close to home. It was only natural for her to “I have a lot of confidence,” Hoskins on how hard she is going to work and what
inquire about the possibility of getting said. “I am getting a new start, and I am she brings to the game.”
Hoskins to come to ICC. going to work as hard as I can to do the That shouldn’t be a problem because
It turns out the both parties found what best I can.” Hoskins knows ICC is the right fit for
they needed. Hoskins thanked Aberdeen High girls her.n

story by ADAM MINICHINO photo by KELLY TIPPETT


6 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
MAKING
THEIR MARK
COLUMBUS ATHLETES REAP BENEFITS
OF HARD WORK, DETERMINATION
OLUMBUS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT-ATHLETES

C made their mark at both ends of the spectrum in the


2009-10 school year.
On one end, senior Danté Oliver real- to be experienced to push to the front of
ized a career’s worth of hard work and the line and become one of the state’s
came into his own as one of the state’s top powerlifters.
top 400-meter performers. On the basketball court, freshmen
Justin Verner showed you don’t have KiKi Patterson and Maggie Proffitt

TOP OF PAGE: Columbus High girls basketball players, front row, from left, Maggie Proffitt
and KiKi Patterson and track and field standout Danté Oliver and Justin Verner, back row,
represent the promise and the potential of the Falcons’ athletic program.
OPPOSITE: Top: CHS quarterback Cedric Jackson delivers a pass as the Tupelo High rush
closes in. Upper right: Stefan Hairston delivers a pitch, while, lower left, Ebony Ross
attempts a kill in volleyball. Lower right: CHS boys tennis players Nick Missel and Houston
Walker advanced to the semifinals of the Class 6A No. 2 doubles state tournament.

story by ADAM MINICHINO photos by KELLY TIPPET and ADAM MINICHINO


SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 ◆ THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 9
flashed the potential they hope will pounds to his bench press, and a little place time of 47.99 at the Region 1
help them lead the Columbus girls to bit on dead lift. meet and followed that up with a per-
championship contender status. “I just wanted to go in every day and sonal-best time of 47.05 at the North
The performances of all four stu- work as hard as I can,” Verner said. “I Half State meet. South Panola’s Montez
dent-athletes were just a handful of believed I could do it. I think I made a Griffin (47.01) edged Oliver for first.
many in a solid year for the Columbus huge impression on everybody (at the Oliver’s finish at the Class 6A state
High athletic program. state meet).” meet wasn’t available at press time.
Verner’s accomplishment stood out Columbus High powerlifting coach Oliver hoped to push into the 46-sec-
because the football player/powerlifter Grady McCluskey thought Verner ond range at that meet.
is only a sophomore. He made people would do well at the state meet, but he “It has been an amazing season,”
doubt that statement when he lifted a didn’t think the only sophomore in the Oliver said. “Two seconds is a lot in
combined 1,505 pounds to win the group would make such a splash. track, and I am happy I have gotten
Class 6A 242-pound weight class last “His potential in that sport is unlimit- (his time in the 400) down that low. It
month at the Mississippi High School ed,” McCluskey said. “He should set has been through hard work, and
Activities Association State meet at some records next year.” coach (Jim) Hamilton is a good coach
Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson. McCluskey said Verner squats 600 and he has helped a lot.”
“It was exciting to bring a state title pounds and attempted 635 at the state Oliver said he realized early this sea-
to the school,” Verner said. “I expected meet but missed it. He said Verner son he could reach his latest plateau.
to do well because I worked so hard could have done a lot more than 315 on He said he sliced his time into the 48-
through the summer and after football the bench press and just did what he second range pretty quickly and real-
season was over.” needed to win on the dead lift. ized he had plenty more in him to go
Verner, a starting right guard on “He is a great kid,” McCluskey said. even faster.
Columbus High’s football team, recent- “He does everything we ask, he is real That improvement has sent colleges
ly turned 16 and has come a long way conscientious, and he just has a special scurrying to get close to Oliver. The
from his freshman year, when he said talent, in football, too. He did a great University of Mississippi is believed to
he messed up a lot trying to master the job. We’re looking for a lot of positive be the leader in the recruiting process
technique required to record official things in football and in powerlifting in at press time, but Mississippi State,
lifts. the next couple of years.” Florida, Tennessee, and LSU are just
But Verner said he remained Oliver’s maturation into a college- some of the suitors that are trying to
focused and made his biggest gains bound sprinter came quickly. Last year, convince Oliver to showcase his speed
this season after the North Half State he recorded a time of 49.26 seconds in at their schools.
meet, adding 50 pounds on squat, 25 the 400. This year, He delivered a first- “I didn’t think I would be running

It’s A Great Day To Be A Falcon!


2010 Falcon Football
Aug 20 Aberdeen Away
Aug 27 Noxubee Co. Home
Sept 3 West Point Home
Sept 10 Open
Sept 17 Louisville Away
Sept 24 Tupelo* Away
Oct. 1 Southaven* Home
Oct 8 South Panola* Away
Oct 15 Desoto Central* Home
Oct 22 Horn Lake * Away
Oct 29 Olive Branch* Home
Nov 5 Starkville* Away
* District Games * Homecoming • Head Coach Bubba Davis

Columbus School District


2630 McArthur Drive • Columbus, Mississippi 39705 • 662.241.7400
www.columbuscityschools.org
10 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH ◆ SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
“I just wanted to go in every day and work as hard as I can. I believed I could do it.
I think I made a huge impression on everybody (at the state meet).”
Columbus powerlifter Justin Verner

track on a collegiate level,” rebounds per game this sea- her first season after trans- Hairston get a championship
Oliver said. “A lot of people son. ferring from Heritage ring before she retires, or at
tell me I can run, but I guess Proffitt earned honorable Academy, Proffitt showed least before they graduate.
I really didn’t see it. This mention accolades after she was capable of playing “The standards are set
year has opened my eyes. I pouring in 14.9 points and the game against some of high (by Hairston) and the
knew I had potential, but I grabbing 3.7 rebounds per the state’s toughest competi- school and (Columbus High
didn’t know I can do what I game. Principal) Mr. (Craig)
Shannon,” Patterson said. n
tion.
am doing now. I didn’t The freshman guards “The first day I came in
expect any of this. I am glad were asked to play such key they were all so welcoming,”
it has happened.” roles because the Lady Proffitt said. “It was just so
Oliver said slipping into Falcons didn’t have a lot of easy because I just came in
Congratulations
the 46-second range will size or experience in the and played. They all accept- on a great year
serve as motivation the rest post. The team also had to ed me from the start. Maggie!
of the offseason as he pre- adjust in the middle of the
#
31
“I think I did OK for a
pares for his next step. He season to the transfer of Chy freshman. I know I have to
said it is still hard to believe Cunningham to Tupelo High get better and work harder.”
he has progressed this far, School.
Patterson and Proffitt
especially since many sprint- The challenge didn’t faze
showed how well their skills
ers who are competing in Patterson or Proffitt, who
complement each other.
college ran the same times in used their experience on the Go Lady Falcons!
They believe their friendship
high school he is running Amateur Athletic Union cir-
now. cuit to help take control of will be just one thing that We’re Proud of You!
“That just drives me to do the team. grows stronger as they learn Love,
more and to achieve more Patterson knew Hairston how to be better teammates Martin & Meme
when I get to college,” Oliver expected her to take on such and how to strive to help
said. “I know my time is a big role. As one of the
going to go down when you
get to college and get on a
team’s point guards,
Patterson helped set the tone Get in TOP shape
college training plan.”
Oliver admits the road has
been long and included plen-
with aggressive play and a
fine shooting touch from the
perimeter.
this summer!
ty of changes (four coaches
since his eighth-grade year).
Patterson tore ligaments
in her right ankle and Join
In that time, the work, the missed the final six games.
passion, and the support She said she is fine now and
from his teammates made it is looking forward to honing
even more satisfying. her skills and taking on an Boot Camp workouts help:
“It was a nice journey,” even bigger role. • Improve Agility
Oliver said. “I love it. It is a “I learned how to be a • Increase quickness Let us do
good experience doing track, leader on and off the court • Boost Power a camp for
especially if you have the and how to encourage girls • Aid in body fat loss your team or
people around you. I really who are older and younger • Build Muscle group!
enjoyed my four years at than me,” Patterson said. “I $99/person
Columbus High School run- learned a lot how to be a All boot camps 4 weeks- 10 or more
ning track.” team player and how to work and meet 2 times/week
Columbus High girls bas- hard.” Open to ALL ages &
ketball coach Yvonne Proffitt also showed a deft fitness levels Ask
Hairston hopes Patterson shooting stroke, albeit from about
our
PS
and Proffitt can help the a little deeper. While BOOT CAM
RUN BY
Lady Falcons have similar
results.
Patterson might be more
adept at breaking defenses
FITNESS FA
CTOR KIDZ
TRAINERS
Patterson earned first- down and driving into gaps, CAMP
team honors on The Proffitt showed consistency
Ca Ne
in J mps S w too!
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Schools All-Area Girls Proffitt said she didn’t
Onl ing
y $9 Call 327-6348 All Camps
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Basketball team after averag- know what to expect or what Not Necessary
ing 15 points and 4.3 role she was going to play. In
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 11
Zach Taylor, left, Madison Ford, Sykes soon discovered Ford didn’t want
Jessee Mims, and Tyler White just to compete, she wanted to be the best.
helped Heritage Academy have a “She puts the extra time in and she
successful 2009-10 sports season. makes the effort to be better than the
rest,” said Sykes, who coaches Heritage
Academy’s track and field teams. “In bas-
ketball, she was up there in the gym all
summer, even when the team wasn’t. She
is the same way in the shot put and the
discus. She is always coming to practice
earlier and staying longer than anybody
else. She is such a great kid.”
Heritage Academy rewarded Ford and
the rest of its seniors May 13 at its annual
Class Day program. Ford received a host
of athletic and academic awards in addition
to a host of scholarships. She then joined
her classmates in recapping the history of

THE PAYOFF
HERITAGE ACADEMY’S FORD DOES A LITTLE BIT
the Class of 2010 by reading summaries of
what each class accomplished every year
since kindergarten.
“It has been a very positive experi-
ence,” Ford said. “All of my academics and
OF EVERYTHING IN FINAL YEAR athletics have made me grow into a strong
person. I feel I have a good base to take
REG SYKES KNEW EARLY ON MADISON FORD was with me to college.”

G going to make her mark. Sykes first started to work


with Ford in the shot put when she was a seventh-
grader at Heritage Academy.
Ford will attend Mississippi State in the
fall. She said she never looked at a smaller
school in part because her mother and her
story and photo by ADAM MINICHINO

12 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH ◆ SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010


father went to school at MSU. She said a possible trip to medical In addition, Ford joined Buck Bateman, Boyd Hardy, Ann
school likely will keep her from continuing her days of varsity Marie Chilcutt, and Carolina Borland in earning Hall of Fame
team sports, but she will stay involved in intramural athletics. honors.
Ford easily could have gone on to play basketball at a four-year Sykes said Ford, who won a state title in the discus (106 feet,
school. She received the team’s Yandell Harris Award, was the 3 inches) as a sophomore, never allowed her focus to waver and
squad’s MVP, a member of the North AAA All-Conference team, remained a positive example for her peers and teammates.
and a Mississippi Association of Independent Schools All-Star. Ford’s mettle was put to the test at the meet. After sub-par
In addition to her prowess on the basketball court, Ford also throws on the discus in her first two attempts, Ford, who
was a member of the fast-pitch softball team and the track and entered the event as the top seed, regained her form and deliv-
field team. She was the MVP of field events on the track team. She ered the winning throw.
also logged the most hours as a bat girl for the school’s baseball Sykes said Ford might have been nervous as the top seed,
team. but he said she put the anxiousness aside and allowed her hard
Ford said the teachers and coaches at Heritage Academy work to take over. He said Ford continued to excel in every
helped her learn the value of good study habits, how to be sport, even if her marks in the shot put (32-4, fourth) and in the
responsible, and how to get things done, especially with such a discus (1005, third) didn’t earn her another title in her final
busy schedule. season.■
“There were never enough hours in the day, but, when it came
down to it, I just had to put first what had to be done,” Ford said. Congratulations
“My dad (Norman) always told me you never can quit something on a great senior
you start, so if I am going to do something I am going to do it to
the best of my ability.”
year
Heritage Academy girls basketball coach Bruce Allsup, who McKellar!
also is the school’s athletic director, said Ford’s enthusiasm and Congratulations
# on a great season!
51
determination carry over to her peers and to her teammates.
“Whether it be at school or in athletics, she wants to be suc-
cessful in everything she does,” Allsup said. “She is a winner. She
has that kind of fire about her, and I think her mother and father 662-327-2839
have instilled that in her over the years.” We’re Proud
Ford showed at the school’s Class Day program just how much of You! 1701 Main St. • Columbus, MS
of an impact she made at Heritage Academy. Not only did Ford Monday-Friday 7:00-4:00
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SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 ◆ THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 13


New Hope High School football players
gather for a practice early in the 2009
season. The Trojans had a program-best
11-2 season and advanced to the Class
5A North Half State title game.

SUCCESS
Titles highlight 2009-10 season at New Hope High,
provide plenty of optimism for future

story by ADAM MINICHINO photo by KELLY TIPPETT


14 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
HE 2009-10 SCHOOL YEAR WAS FILLED WITH HIGHLIGHTS FOR NEW HOPE HIGH

T SCHOOL. The fall season began with a program-best effort by the football team and
another state championship for the slow-pitch softball team.
Coach Tabitha Beard’s Lady Trojans in 2007 and ’08 before moving up to Class In football, coach Michael Bradley’s
beat Brookhaven 10-0 and 7-5 to win the 5A in the state’s latest reclassification. team went 11-2 and lost to eventual state
Mississippi High School Activities New Hope had 17 hits in the mercy- champion West Point 41-21 in the Class
Association Class 5A state title series. rule victory in game one. Haley Tutor 5A North Half State title game.
Buoyed by a six-run fifth inning, a had three hits and an RBI, Lauren West Point (14-1) was the only team to
strong relief job by pitcher Rachel Holifield had three hits, including a dou-
beat New Hope.
Rhoades, and a balanced team attack, ble and a triple, and three RBIs, and
The finish marked another step in the
New Hope rallied in game two and then Ashley Boyle (RBI), Anna McCrary, and
held on to claim the title at the V.A. Anna Holley (RBI) had two hits as 10 of development of a program that lost nine
Fields. the 11 Lady Trojans who batted had hits. of 10 games in Bradley’s first season as
The title was the third in a row for New Hope loses just two seniors — coach.
New Hope (22-7), and 12th overall. The Morgan Hardin and Empress Shirley — A group of 13 seniors served as the
Lady Trojans won the Class 4A state title from the slow-pitch team. guiding force for the program’s success.

SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 15


“We started believing we can win
instead of thinking, ‘We are just New
Hope. We are never going to win,’ ”
Justin Flye said. “We started to believe
that we are a good team and we start-
ed winning.”
Bradley said the change in attitude
is a key reason why New Hope has
become a title contender. When he
first arrived, Bradley said there were
30 guys on the team who thought they
should be the starting running back,
and that the players who weren’t the
starter weren’t going to go hard
unless they were the starting running
back.
He said seniors like Eddie Preston
helped change that and have paved
the way for future classes to remem-
ber only winning teams at the school.
n In the winter, the boys and girls
basketball teams won district champi-
onships. The title for the girls was the
first in 18 years.
Both teams had their success with
first-year coaches.
Drew McBrayer took over for veter-
an coach Robert Byrd and guided the
Trojans to a 25-4 season.
The end came in controversial fash-
ion, as an official’s decision helped
give Callaway a 78-75 victory in double
overtime in the Class 5A North Half
State semifinals.
Deville Smith, who later committed
to play at Mississippi State, scored 48
points, including all 12 of his team’s
points in the second OT to help end
New Hope’s season.
“I thought it was an extremely well-
played ballgame at both ends of the
floor by both teams,” McBrayer said.
“It is one of those games these kids
are going to remember forever. It is Johnathan Brandon (34) had a standout senior season for the Trojans.
going to hurt for a long time because I
thought we had it.” blocked his path and appeared to have “My hand was straight up,”
McBrayer believed the Trojans him contained just outside the 3-point Brandon said. “I hate for the officials
were going to pull the upset thanks to arc. With the clock winding down, to decide the game. This was for it all,
the heroics of Raymond Walters (27 Smith lost the ball, regained control, and it means everything for us to go to
points), who scored only three points and went up for a shot. Brandon kept Jackson. ... Let us go out and play ball.
in the first half and shook off a stom- his arms straight up and looked to He is a (member of The Clarion-
ach virus to have a monster second avoid contact. His defense appeared to Ledger’s) Dandy Dozen. If he makes a
half. The senior guard apparently good enough, as Smith’s shot missed clutch three, let him make a clutch
capped the game with a fallaway 3- at the buzzer. three.”
pointer at the top of the key with 4.7 But the officials didn’t agree. Said McBrayer, “Most of the time it
seconds remaining that gave New Brandon was whistled for the foul, is a non-call, especially with as little
Hope a 55-53 lead. which sent Smith to the free-throw contact as was actually there. When a
But the officials put 2.2 seconds game comes down to those three guys
line with no time left on the clock.
back on the clock after New Hope in the black and white stripes it is out
Smith made the first, missed the sec- of our hands. You just hope they make
called a timeout. The added time
enabled Smith to work his magic. The ond, and swished the third to send the the right decision and don’t cheat the
speedy junior guard took the inbounds game to overtime. kids, but the majority of the time the
pass and looked to create a shot on The call didn’t sit well with Brandon whistle is not blown.”
the left wing. Johnathan Brandon or McBrayer. The New Hope girls beat Oxford
16 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
48-46 in its district tournament opener,
but the true test of how far the team
had come came against West Point in
the district final.
Having lost to the Lady Wave twice
during the regular season, coach Laura
Lee Holman knew it would take a gritty
performance to shut down Kelsei
Ewings, The Commercial Dispatch’s
Large Schools Player of the Year.
Ewings had 21 and West Point had
an eight-point lead at halftime, but
Kelli Petty and Kia Edmonds combined
to score 26 points, which helped propel
the Lady Trojans to a 42-40 win.
“Those first five minutes in the lock-
er room, just to see that joy on their
faces was incredible,” coach Laura Lee
Holman said. “When we got in the
locker room, the first thing they said
was, ‘Coach, you said we’d be having
fun in February.’ That was a special
feeling to know they accomplished
something that hadn’t been done in 18
years.”
The Lady Trojans moved on to the
North Half State playoffs, where they
lost to Canton 57-52 to finish 16-10.
In boys soccer, first-year coach
Jerry Byrd led the team back to the
playoffs for the first time since 2004 or
2005, but the run ended with a 2-1 loss
to Callaway in the first round of the
Class 5A North Half State playoffs at
Trojan Field.
Tanner Ryals scored on a penalty
kick in the second half, but Callaway
answered with the game-winner late in
the game to end the Trojans’ season at
6-6-1.
“Effort wise I can’t complain,” Byrd
said. “That’s one thing I like about
these kids, they’re going to give you
their best effort. We may be deficient
New Hope slow- and fast-pitch softball player Anna Holley (16).
in other areas, but our effort has
always been there. and field career by finishing second in lost game one to Hernando 6-5 in 11
“I am pleased (with the first sea- the 100 (12.09), third in the 200 innings on a walkoff home run by Jon
son). I had hoped (we would make the (25.49), and fourth in the high jump (5 Vernon. The Tigers then completed
playoffs). My expectations at the feet). the sweep with a 5-3 victory in
beginning of the season were to win, to The baseball team reaped the bene- Columbus.
put a good product on the field, to put fits of experience to win its first district Still, there was a lot for the team to
good kids on the field. If you can do title in a number of years en route to a savor. Boyd said the program should
that, good things will happen. I wish 23-8 record. take pride in its first district champi-
we could have won a few more games, First-year coach Lee Boyd, a New onship in five years. He credited the
but it didn’t work out for these guys.” Hope High School graduate, thought leadership of seniors Mitch Elkin,
n In the spring, senior Kelli Petty the team came together and picked up Gabe Franks, Davis Lee, Blake
showed she was deserving of a track on his style of managing. The only Roberts, Jake Smith, Seth Stillman,
and field scholarship to Mississippi problem was he felt the team peaked Philip Tice, Jake Upton, and Brent
State with a strong season. too soon, especially at the plate. Younger.
Petty won the 100 meters (12.52 sec- After a streak of hot hitting in the “They always played as a team,”
onds), the 200 (25.93), and the high middle to late in the regular season, Boyd said. “These guys have been
jump (5 feet, 1 inch) at the regional New Hope scored nine runs in its together since they were 13 years old,
meet to qualify for the Class 5A State three-game series victory against and as far as adjusting to me they
meet. She closed her high school track Neshoba Central in the first round. It always adjusted and made me proud.
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 17
“We started believing we can win instead of thinking,
‘We are just New Hope. We are never going to win.’ ”
New Hope football player Justin Flye

“We’re going to be second base to start the Kasey Stanfield) and eighth- our weaker links are going
extremely young next year. inning once the game reach- graders (D.J. Sanders and to have to work. All we can
We probably will only have es extra innings. Bradley) in key roles, do is keep playing and
working.”n
three guys with any playing Hernando scored a run in matured as a group through-
experience coming back. the top of the eighth thanks out the season.
But you have some young to a bunt, while New Hope Still, she said it was disap- Staff Writer David Miller
kids who have worked hard pushed a runner to third pointing to see the season contributed to this report.
and it is kind of hard to see base and then saw its season end because she had seen
how those kids will work end when Lauren Holifield’s the players execute in the
and develop. But I am line drive hit Kaitlin Bradley. field and deliver at the plate.
extremely proud of our guys The umpire ruled Bradley She said everyone will have
this year.” was in fair territory and to learn from the experience
Hernando also put the called her out. and the younger players will
Congratulations

ACRCOACH
fast-pitch softball team out After the game, New have to continue to improve
on the same day. The Lady Hope coach Tabitha Beard if the Lady Trojans are going on a great season!
Trojans lost game one 3-0 at honored designated player to take the next step.
Hernando, rallied for a 9-3 Empress Shirley, the team’s “Softball is a team sport,”
victory in game two in only senior, and credited her Beard said. “We win as a
Columbus, and then dropped for persevering and not giv- team, we lose as a team, and Rent/charter our luxury
a 2-1 decision in eight ing up on the team or her- we have to progress as a Motorcoaches &
innings in game three. The self. team. It can’t be about indi- Corporate Coaches
Lady Tigers capitalized on Beard said her team, viduals. It is like that old www.acrcoach.com
the international tiebreaker
rule that puts a runner on
which featured several fresh-
men (Holifield and catcher
adage, ‘You’re only as strong
as your weaker links,’ and 662-244-5773

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•Football 3654 New Hope Road
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www.clra.net GO TROJANS!
18 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
Proud Supporters
of Our Area
Athletes

Front row, left to right, Silvia Carr, Holona Yarber, Felicia Bowen, Birney Imes, Connie Harris; second row, Steve
Mullen, Terri Collums, Celsie Staggers, Tammie Honeycutt, Tina Perry, Debbie Foster, Adrian Turner; third row; Adrian
Bohannon, Beth Proffitt, Buster Wolfe, Peter Imes, Elbert Ellis, Jackie Taylor, Patsy Bowen, Jan Swoope, Linda Massey;
forth row, Jerry Hayes, Vernon Hedgeman, Henry Matuszak, Tyson Wilson, Jamie Morrison, Ronald Gore, Carol Talley,
Sid Lee, Canyon Boykin, Jason Browne, Matt Garner, Jeff Lipsey and Lonnie Shinn.

www.cdispatch.com
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 ◆ THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 19
MULTITASKING
Immanuel athletes show
versatility in competition
story by ADAM MINICHINO photos by KELLY TIPPETT and ADAM MINICHINO

TUDENT-ATHLETES AT SMALL SCHOOLS don’t have


S many opportunities to specialize in sports.
Immanuel Christian’s Wesley Lake is a Overall State meet.
perfect example of how busy a student- “It was a lot harder because when I ran
athlete can be practicing and playing one the mile I didn’t get to slow down any. It
sport and trying to prepare for another was just another two laps of pushing
sport in the next season. hard,” Lake said. “I did pretty good with
Lake, who played football, basketball, the transition.”
and baseball, knew the plan for him in The performance was one of plenty
Meghan Cooper, top, dribbles the ball
track and field season was to move from standout efforts this season from student- against Heritage Academy, while QB
the 800 meters to the 1,600. athletes at Immanuel Christian. Ross Moore makes a handoff.
To prepare for the step up to the mile, Lake also was part of the 3,200-meter
Lake realized he had to train on his own relay team that finished seventh. n Ray Campbell was pleased with
so he would be ready once it came time Lake, who last year became the the girls soccer team’s 4-6 record in the
to run. school’s first state champion when he district (4-8 overall). Senior Nyki
The work paid off as Lake finished sec- won the 800 (2:12.44), teamed with Justin Baudoin, one of three seniors on the
ond in the 1,600 with a time of 4 minutes, Perkins, who was sixth in the 800, Ross team, was selected to participate in the
58.47 seconds at the Mississippi Moore, and Reed Williams to finish with a MAIS Senior All-Star game and was
Association of Independent Schools time of (10:06.81). named All-District.
20 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
Left, football coaches Shawn Gates and Daniel Merchant led the football team in 2009, while at right student-athletes Nyki
Baudoin, Wesley Lake, front row, from left, and Ross Moore and Mary Katherine Good, back row, from left, were just some of
the standout performers in the 2009-10 school year.

Senior Elizabeth Cook, a defender, also was named All- lose two games at the state tournament.
District. As quarterback on the football team, Moore said he learned
Campbell said he has had 22 players sign up for the 2010 sea- plenty of “life lessons.” He learned how not to get too frustrated
son, which adds to the excitement. He said many of the teams and to enjoy what he was doing. The Rams’ youth and lack of
Immanuel Christian competes against don’t have junior varsity depth sometimes made that tough at times, but he is confident
teams, so he will try to get the players as much playing time as the Rams can regroup from last season’s 1-9 finish.
possible in varsity games. “We’re going to continue to get better and better,” Moore
“I thought we did pretty good for a young team,” Campbell
said. “The hard thing is to get guys to come here so we can get
said. “We will get everybody back this year, so I am looking for
good things.” the numbers. It is hard to get people excited about football.
Baudoin also competed in cheerleading, basketball, and track “But we have the chance to win a lot more games this year
and field. She said it was exciting to be a part of the first girls than we did last year.”■

GO
basketball team at the school to advance to the state tourna-
ment. The Lady Rams beat Kemper Academy for the first time
and defeated Hebron Christian for the first time in five years.
“It was an amazing year for me to end on my senior year,”

RAMS!
Baudoin said.
Things were equally amazing for Mary Katherine Good,
Lake, and Moore.
Good, a freshman in her second year competing on the track
and field team, finished third in the 3,200.
Good said her goal was to advance past the North Half State
meet and to place at the overall state meet. She accomplished Immanuel Center for
her goal and ran a personal-best time of 13 minutes, 58.73 sec-
onds in the process.
“It is going to push me more and I am going to practice
Christian Education
throughout the year rather than just wait for track practice,” Offering quality education with strong Christian emphasis.
said Good, who also was a member of the basketball and soccer Mississippi’s only PreK3-12 school
teams. “It is going to push me to get first place.” with all three accreditations:
SACS (Southern Association of Colleges & Schools)
■ Daniel Merchant, who works as an assistant coach to MAIS (Mississippi Association of Independent Schools)
Shawn Gates on the football team, led the baseball team to four ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International)
victories and a 3-7 mark in the district this season.
Like Campbell, Merchant had a young team, with two All-
Conference selections — Jeremy Davidson and Christian Good.
Brandon Westover, Dustin White, and Justin James were named
honorable mention All-Conference.
“We were better offensively. We scored 111 runs this year
and only 82 last year, and we don’t lose anybody,” Merchant
said. “I think we have a chance to be real good next year. I have
seen progress in each and every year, so I am looking forward Call 662-328-7888
to it.” To request an information packet or schedule a tour
■ Moore, who also played football, basketball, baseball and www.immanuelschool.net
track and field, said the boys basketball team had an up-and- 6405 Military Road (intersection of Military Road and Highway 12 East)
www.immanuelschool.net
down season. The team won the district title before it went on to
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 ◆ THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 21
W I N N I N G B E C O M I N G T H E N O R M AT

VICTORY
T
HE DYNASTY CONTINUES TO GROW. WHETHER IT WAS WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS
in football and girls basketball or having state-level success in volleyball, boys
basketball, baseball, and cheerleading, the 2009-10 school year was one to remember at
Victory Christian Academy.
“It has been a really successful year,”
Victory Christian Academy Athletic
Director Chris Hamm said. “We made
the state tournament in everything
except softball. Two years ago, we did-
n’t have a softball team.”
The softball team, which opened a
new field this year, showed signs of
progress, winning three games after
going winless in its first year. Hamm
admits it might take a few more years
for that program to reach a champi-
onship level, but he is encouraged by
how quickly the program is growing.
Softball isn’t the only program at the
school that is gaining momentum. A
signup sheet on the window of the front
office for the 2010 volleyball team was
nearly filled with more than 20 signa-
tures in the middle of May. Those girls From left: Victory Christian Academy’s Erin Williams, Caitlin Osterman, C.J. Bell,
will try to help the program improve on and Parker Eaves played key roles in helping most all of the school’s sports have
first trip to the state tournament in sev- championship seasons.
eral years. Wells, and newcomer Nicky Croft ball teams. While he thought the foot-
Dale Latham got a late start to the helped the team work hard through the ball team had a good chance to repeat
season as coach of the volleyball team, slow start and assisted Latham, a volun- as champions, he joked he used his
but the Lady Eagles recovered and teer coach who replaced David uncertainty about the girls basketball
clicked at the right time. Johnson, as he acclimated himself to team’s chances to motivate the squad.
“He did really good. He listened to the sport and to being a head coach. It worked.
us and we listened to him, and we had In February, the girls basketball The girls basketball team’s champi-
to work together to grow,” senior team rallied to beat defending champi- onship came on the heels of the title the
Caitlin Osterman said of Latham. “It on Eastwood 25-20 in the Alabama boys basketball team won in 2008-09.
worked. We got a lot farther than I Christian Education Athletic Williams, who also played on the
expected to get with all of the things Association Division I State volleyball and softball teams, said the
that were stacked against us. Hopefully Tournament at Shelton State softball team should be on the rise
next season they will go farther.” Community College in Tuscaloosa, Ala. quickly because a lot of the younger
Osterman, Erin Williams, Kathryn Hamm, who also is the principal, players have experience playing the
Scarbrough, Sarah Simpson, Heather coached the football and girls basket- sport.

story by ADAM MINICHINO photos by ADAM MINICHINO and KELLY TIPPETT

22 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010


She also put pressure on the 2010-11 teammates. He said the team, which is
girls basketball team. losing six players, has a chance to
“Next year is probably going to be make it three titles in a row if it comes
just as good,” Williams said. “There are together.
a lot of juniors who are seniors who are Hamm said the enthusiasm and par-
really, really good basketball players ticipation from student-athletes, par-
We’ll probably have another (title) next ents, volunteers, and everyone else has
year.” become contagious, just like winning,
Osterman agreed the victory was a and he hopes it translates into more
little sweeter because it was unexpect- championships next season.
ed, and with Williams that the future “As a small school, we want to be
for the program is extremely bright. able to provide the best possible athlet-
The same is true for the baseball ic program,” Hamm said. “We have a
team. lot of people who volunteer and help us
Led by first-year head coach Brent simply for the reward of doing it.
Harris and assistant coach Wes Jones, Without them, we wouldn’t be in the
the Eagles advanced to the ACEAA position we are. We have a tremendous
Final Four at Northside Methodist support staff.”
Academy in Dothan, Ala. Eaves agrees. The senior quarter-
“I was real pleased with the progress back hopes he helped set an example
the baseball team made this season,” for his younger teammates and the
Hamm said.
other students in the school. He said
Senior C.J. Bell said the team
Victory Christian Academy Athletic hard work in the offseason helped set
clicked early, regrouped after a loss, Director Chris Hamm guided the Eagles the tone for what proved to be a season
and “shocked” itself advancing to the to their second consecutive Christian filled with championships.
state tournament. Football Association title in 2009. The
“We pretty much played our hearts “We just worked together and really
championship was the program’s third
out no matter what,” Bell said. “Next in four years. helped each other a lot,” Eaves said.
year, they’re probably going to have to “Whenever you do that, the wins just
work a little bit harder to be better, but I know with the come and you start a dynasty. I hope they can keep it going,
coach they have they’re going to work hard.” and I know they can, if they work hard like we did. It takes
Led by Parker Eaves’ 320-yard, four-touchdown effort, unity and knowing each other.”■
Victory Christian defeated Tuscaloosa Christian 49-6 in the
Christian Football Association title game in Cottondale, Ala.
The victory helped the Eagles (10-0) win their second
CFA title in a row, and third in four years.
Thanks for your
“We played as one this year and brought the thing home
again,” Eaves said.
Running back/defensive Landon Ellis didn’t practice the
BEST!
week of the title game after suffering an injury in the semi-
final-round game.
Just when the team was ready to leave to go to
We’re always
Cottondale, Ala., for the title game, its charter bus died.
The Eagles scrambled to find enough parents and pickup
trucks to get everyone to the game on time.
so proud of our
Victory Christian also received contributions from new
places, as sophomore Kaleb Holliness stepped in for Ellis at
defensive back. The Eagles needed someone to emerge
athletes!
because Tuscaloosa Christian came out in Victory
Christian’s offense with two split ends, two slot backs, and a
quarterback in the shotgun.
Holliness, who is 5-foot-7, was matched up with a 6-2
receiver. Hamm said Holliness overcame the height disad-
vantage to intercept a pass and break up several others.
One of those pass breakups came early in the game when
Holliness was in great position to break up a fourth-down
pass in the end zone.
But Victory Christian’s sports teams weren’t done.
The cheerleading team also won the ACEAA competi-
tion.
“Cheerleading has been a strong sport at our school,” Memorial and
M
Hamm said. “They go to summer camps every year and do 716 2nd Avenue North 903 College Street

a good job.”
Columbus, Mississippi
(662) 328-4432 Gunter & Peel Columbus, Mississippi
(662) 328-2354
www.memorialfuneral.net Funeral Homes www.gunterandpeel.com
Like Williams, Eaves put pressure on his former football
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 ◆ THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 23
Front row, from left: Caledonia High
School’s Sarah Guess and Jessica
Comer and, back row from left,
Chris Warren and Zach Senneff are
four reasons the school’s track and
field program is one of the state’s
best despite not having a track
facility at the school.

PERSEVERANCE DESPITE FACILITIES, CALEDONIA


TRACK ONE OF STATE’S BEST
story and photo by ADAM MINICHINO

HE WARMUP TO THE BIGGEST SPORTS SUCCESS AT CALEDONIA

T HIGH SCHOOL in 2009-10 came on a “facility” that doesn’t resemble


anything else in the state.
The Caledonia girls and boys the school’s soccer field. letes more than make up for what
track and field teams have a bor- Other than that, you will have they don’t have.
rowed pole vault pit, a set of to look hard to find any signs one Caledonia girls track and field
shiny, new hurdles obtained this of the state’s top track and field coach James Reed, who also
year, a netted area for discus programs in Class 4A exists. coaches the school’s cross coun-
throwers, and makeshift running But once you get to a meet it’s try teams, said both teams are so
lanes around what is set up to be easy to see Caledonia High’s ath- competitive because the athletes

24 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH ◆ SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010


are motivated. He said their drive to be the best helps them I have to have good kids because they pick up this stadium
overcome the limitations they face with facilities and equip- Friday night before they leave to get up and leave Saturday
ment. morning. I don’t have to look for them.”
“It is not the NFL. We can’t trade them or change cities,” Reed said the athletes on both teams know they are invest-
Reed said. “We’re here and we’re going to make do with what ed in their sport and expect to get something out of it.
we have. The kids have bought into that.” Warren said Reed and boys coach Jason Forrester encour-
Reed said the programs have been fortunate to get hand- age the athletes every day in practice but make sure they are
outs from other schools and to receive support from the challenged to do what is expected.
Caledonia High booster club, which has purchased equip-
“I think we all have some grudge or determination
ment, and from the school, which has paid transportation
(because of what they don’t have),” Warren said. “It really
costs so they can compete at better facilities.
Both teams have made the most of their opportunities. The helps to have someone like coach Reed push us in practice,
girls team used individual victories by Jessica Comer (800, and our boys coach (Forrester) pushes us harder than the
1,600, and 3,200 meters), Jelisha Hackman (triple jump, 400), boys coach we had before.”
Glenda Rhone (long jump), Carlee Gurley (pole vault), and Some might consider Reed’s approach a little “old school,”
Nellie Miller (100 hurdles) to win the Class 4A, Division 4, but he is honest with his kids in that track and field is a sport
District 4 title last month at Kosciusko High School. that doesn’t lie. If you put in the work, the results and the
Caledonia scored 164 points to beat Noxubee County (sec- times will come.
ond, 118 points), and Amory (third, 113). Louisville was “In other sports, and I am not picking on other sports
fourth with 42 points. because I have coached a little bit of all of it, it is easy to
Comer repeated with victories in all three of her races, make a team and to sit there and to watch other people,”
while Hackman won the triple jump and 400 to help lead the Reed said. “If you get your shot you might not do real well
Caledonia girls to a Region 2 title. but you can say, ‘Well, the umpires, the weather, the coaches,
Zach Senneff, who won the 3,200 (10 minutes, 59 seconds), or whatever.’ In track and field and cross country, you shoot
and Chris Warren, who won the 1,600 (4:55), helped the the gun and you run. I get them to the meet. We prepare
Caledonia boys take second at the Region 2 meet. them as best we can and we get them to the meet and they
At the North State meet, Comer won the 800 and the 3,200
expect to do well.”
and finished second in the 1,600, Hackman won the 400 and
The results speak for themselves, despite the state of the
finished second in the triple jump, and Sarah Guess was sec-
ond in the discus to qualify for the Class 4A meet. “facilities.”
Senneff (third in the 3,200), Chris Warren (third in the “They’re representing themselves and the school well,”
1,600), and Curtis Fluker (fourth in the triple jump) also qual- Reed said.■
ified.
Guess has exceeded the goals she set for herself at the
beginning of the season. She thought she would be able to
make the North Half State meet, but a throw of 89 feet, 6
inches helped her take the next step.
“We don’t have as much as other people do, but we have
enough to get us there,” Guess said. “We take pride in our
school no matter what the condition. I guess the reason we

Way to
take so much pride is we have spirit and that ounce of pride.
We have come together as a team to motivate everybody to
go farther than their limits.”

go on a son!
Senneff said the teams don’t allow what they don’t have to
distract them. He said running is running, regardless of

a
whether it is on a track or on a grassy surface.
“Making excuses is not going to make you better,” Senneff
said. “If you want to win you’re going to run like we are.
“We work hard because we want to. We want to be the
best, and we try to strive to do what needs to be done to be G R E A T s e
the best.”
While other student-athletes profess to be “invested” in When Caring Coun
ts...
their programs, members of the Caledonia High track and
field team pay to be on the team. Reed said the money from
the athletes goes to defray costs of travel.
In addition, Reed said the team does fundraisers to help it
pay its expenses. FUNERAL HOME & CREM
ATORY
662-328-1808
“The kids we have are kids who want to excel,” Reed said.
“We get them early. I probably had the best middle school
track program in the state, but they had to move up to com- 1131 N. Lehmberg Ro
ad
Columbus, Mississi
pete on the varsity team. ppi
ww w. lo wn de sfu ne ra
“They know we’re different. ... Most of our budget comes lh om e.n et
from picking up other peoples’ trash. We work the football
games and after the football games they pick up this stadium.
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 ◆ THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 25
REALIZING POTENTIAL
West Lowndes’ Hill uses Keffer McGee as motivation for success
story and photo by ADAM MINICHINO
EFFER McGEE

K WATCHES OVER
EVERYONE who visits
West Lowndes High School.
Situated above the doorway to the
school’s main office, an artist’s rendering
of the former prep and college football
standout looks out into the hallway that
leads to the gym and to the rest of the
school.
McGee’s image is an enduring symbol
for a school and a community that
remembers one of its greatest student-ath-
letes.
Brandon Hill has seen that picture
every day the past four years. It has moti-
vated him to realize his potential on the West Lowndes High School football player Brandon Hill stands in front of an artist’s
rendering of Keffer McGee.
football field. It has driven him to be the
best he can be in the classroom. It has main coronary artery was 90 percent pound linebacker/wide receiver, didn’t
helped him secure an opportunity to play blocked and there was other evidence of know how the television station was going
football at Mississippi State. hardening of the arteries, Oktibbeha to use pictures of McGee, but he said the
Only months before he will report for County Coroner Michael Hunt told the images were powerful.
his freshman season with the Bulldogs, Associated Press. “I felt like that was the biggest honor I
Hill said he is ready to take the lessons he Former MSU coach Jackie Sherrill could receive at the moment,” Hill said.
has learned from McGee and to set the said McGee was more than just another “It was almost like a tear-jerker situation. I
same example. football player. still had to remember I had an interview
“I consider myself as the other half to “Keffer was a very special, special per- to do.”
the story of Keffer McGee,” Hill said. “I son,” Sherrill told Paul Jones in an article Hill isn’t shying away from the respon-
want to carry his memory as well as his for BullDawgJunction.com. “He was sibility he feels to carry on McGee’s lega-
success. I want to try to move that for- respected by his teammates, his friends cy. He understands he will go to MSU
ward. ... I want to rise any way I can and on campus, his coaches, and his profes- shouldering his expectations, his family’s
make a success story out of it.” sors. I don’t know of another student that expectations, and the expectations of
McGee died Aug. 5, 1997, in a swim- had the presence that he had on campus.” those at West Lowndes High, and in the
ming accident. He graduated from West Hill said McGee is an inspiration to community. That’s a huge burden to bear
Lowndes High in 1993 and went on to be him and to the rest of the West Lowndes for any individual, but Hill already is fol-
a three-time member of the All- High community because he was “getting lowing McGee’s example.
Southeastern Conference Academic it done academically and athletically.” He “I consider myself an icon for West
Honor Roll as a member of the MSU foot- said he will do his best to live up to those Lowndes,” Hill said. “I consider myself a
ball team. standards at MSU. role model, also. Any way I can encourage
As a sophomore, McGee rushed for “I want to carry that and take that on the young people. I speak to elementary
1,072 yards. He led the SEC in rushing my shoulders and move it forward,” Hill and middle schoolers, even high school-
and ranked third nationally with 481 yards said. ers who are up and coming. I speak with
when he suffered torn knee ligaments in Hill said his mother, LaTanya Fenster, them to try to encourage them any way I
a Sept. 28, 1996, game against South was pregnant with him when she was in can because I really care about my school.
Carolina. He had surgery in October, par- high school. He said his mother was older I want everyone to be successful. I lead by
ticipated in spring drills, and was expect- than McGee, and that McGee used to example. I don’t expect anything to come
ed to be at full speed for the first time the carry his mother’s books. toward me, and I try to go get it any way I
following season. He was 22 and a gradu- Years later, McGee’s and Hill’s lives can. Anytime somebody asks of me, I try
ate student when he died. intersected again when WCBI used to do more than what is asked of me.”
An autopsy later revealed McGee had images of McGee to introduce a highlight Hill plans to live up to that credo in the
an undetected heart problem that likely package of Hill on their National Signing next few months. He already is doing
contributed to his death. McGee’s left Day special broadcast. Hill, a 6-foot-2, 215- plenty of individual conditioning, like

26 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH ◆ SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010


“I consider myself as the other half to the story of Keffer McGee.
I want to carry his memory as well as his success.”
West Lowndes football player Brandon Hill

jumping rope and running stadium steps, higher-rated prospects. He doesn’t mind ing will be given to him.
and working out three or four times a the questions or the doubters because he Hill said that attitude will help him real-
week at the YMCA. Initially, the work was knows it will be up to him to earn playing ize the goals he will set for himself. He
designed to prepare him to play line- time. knows, too, that everyone at West
backer. But Hill said MSU coach Dan “Everyone has something to prove,” Lowndes High and in the community will
Mullen recently told him he plans to use Hill said. “You can’t just go out there and be watching him and pulling for him, so
him at wide receiver, so Hill said he is try- expect it just because you walk out there. he has to work even harder to satisfy all
ing to shed a few pounds so he can help Everyone has a grind they have to go of those people.
add depth to that position. through. I understand if someone is McGee faced similar expectations and
Hill had 23 catches for 269 yards and ranked higher than me because they get a showed what hard work can help some-
two touchdowns as a senior. He also had little more attention than me or they went one accomplish. Hill wants to do even
64 tackles, made one interception, had to a bigger school than I did. It is just a
more to make McGee and everyone else
one sack, recovered three fumbles, broke mind-set. I understand I have got to work
proud.
up three passes, and tallied three tackles to be successful. If he can outwork me, he
“I have to work for myself and my
for loss. He returned one of the intercep- deserves it. I doubt I am going to allow
tions for a touchdown. ESPN.com gave anybody to outwork me because I have it community,” Hill said. “The thing with
Hill a four-star ranking and listed him the in my mind that I got to work hard to get West Lowndes is we get a lot of backlash
No. 24 athlete in the nation. Scout.com where I need to get.” and negativity. I want to be the one to
listed him as the No. 22 prospect in the Hill also said his spirituality will guide show the community, the state, to show
state regardless of position. him. He knows the Lord gave him the whoever needs to know, that West
Still, some area coaches wondered opportunity to play football at MSU and Lowndes, we have pride and we have icon
whether Hill made enough plays to merit that he is eager to take on that challenge. students, marquee students, who can do
those rankings. Hill also has faced ques- He said the key to success will be staying well in any challenge we receive. I want to
tions about how he will stack up against humble and having a mind-set that noth- be that example.”n

RehabatWork
Physical Therapy Occupational Therapy Sports Medicine

Postoperative Rehabilitation
Sports Injuries
Work-Related Injuries
Hand Injuries
Back And Neck Pain

662-241-4545
EAST COLUMBUS NORTH COLUMBUS NORTH COLUMBUS BROOKSVILLE
65 Dutch Lane 2429 5th St. N. 670 Leigh Drive 214 Hwy 388
(Off Lehmberg Road) (At Columbus Orthopaedic Clinic)

SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 27


OAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL
OAL GOAL GOAL
SOCCER GOAL GOAL
REIGNS GOAL GOAL
SUPREME GOAL
ATGOAL GOAL
MSMS GOAL
OAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL
OAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL

Contributed

Mississippi School for Math and Science boys soccer team, top, from left, are Ryan S., Joseph N., John W., Tyler C., Josh
Rester, Ryan M., William Maddox, Arslan Arshad, and James Johnson; bottom, from left, are Eric Brisco, Chase T., Josh Stone,
Joey, Chad Hickman, Morgan W., Taylor Potter, and Nam Pham.

HE MISSISSIPPI SCHOOL FOR MATH AND SCIENCE BOYS SOCCER TEAM delivered

T the biggest highlight for the school’s sports teams this season. The Blues (6-2) defeated
Forest 2-1 in the opening round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association
Class 1A/2A/3A North Half State tournament.
Even though MSMS lost its next game to Corinth, the very satisfying.”
program took pride in the fact it earned its first postseason Chad Hickman and Mo Weems scored goals for MSMS
victory in a number of years. against Forest. MSMS beat Class 5A New Hope in the regular
Seniors Josh “Brody” Rester and Ryan Mackay and junior season and tied Class 6A Columbus in a preseason tourna-
Taylor Potter helped lead the team ment.
“We didn’t really know what to expect from Forest,” The victory and tie were especially satisfying for Mackay
Mackay said. “We have been playing mostly in our district and Rester, who are from Columbus. They admit they have
(against Aberdeen and Winona), but we played well. It was heard the whispers from opponents doubting the ability of the

story by ADAM MINICHINO

28 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010


“We got really lucky this year because of how many people were interested.
We just have a lot of talent.”
MSMS senior soccer player Ryan Mackay

players because they attend an academic school. They also n The tennis team was the runner-up in its district, and
are used to having teams overlook them and count MSMS as sent five to the state tournament: Mackay and Grant compet-
a victory on their schedule. ed in boys doubles, Sindhu Shivaji, of Starkville, and Eric
“We got really lucky this year because of how many people Briscoe competed in mixed doubles. They won their first-
were interested,” Mackay said. “We just have a lot of talent.” round match and lost in the second round.
The team expects to return 13 juniors from this season’s Rebecca Kim, of Ridgeland, also qualified for the state tour-
team.
n The cross country teams competed Nov. 7 at the state
nament.
n In its first year with a track and field team, Courtlandt
meet at Choctaw Trails in Clinton. The girls team placed sev- Perkins was fifth in the 200 (23.09 seconds) and Jamarius
enth in its division. Eighty-six boys and eighty-one girls ran in Waller was eighth in the discus (111 feet, 11 inches at the
Division 3A. Class 1A State meet.
Senior Lanie King paced the team on the 4-kilometer
“We’re real proud of our athletes,” MSMS Executive
course with a time of 19 minutes, 40.8 seconds. Senior Flo
Director Charles Brown said. “Here it is truly student first
Osbourne (19:43.1), senior Katherine Timm (19:56.5), junior
and athlete second. The kids work real hard to keep them-
Leena El-Sadek (21:55.7), senior Hillary Hardwick (22:02.1),
and junior Reanna Bierig (24:13) also competed. selves in playing shape, and have a real desire to do well.”
Senior Tony Green (21:42.3) paced the boys on the 5-K MSMS offers 10 sports. Brown said the school will try to
course. Junior Joshua Stone (21:49.9), junior Darrien Kelly keep as many sports as it can as it prepares for the 2010-11
(25:01.4), senior Alan Wells (25:59.9), and junior Frank school year. The school, which is on the campus of the
McDonald (28:24.9) also competed. Mississippi University for Women in downtown Columbus,
n The MSMS swimming team sent five to the state meet and focuses on academics. It offers cross country, track and
in Biloxi. field, swimming, soccer, and tennis.
Bowen Han, of Starkville, Wilton Liana, of Starkville, Ryan “As always, we are academics first,” Brown said. “We really
Mackay, of Columbus, Adam Grant, of Biloxi, and Samantha want to be able to have our kid to be able to compete. It helps
Nanayakkara, of Oxford, competed. with sprit and good, life-long habits.” n

Est. 1905

Celebrating Over100 Years!

Jackson Square
302 University Drive 2013 Hwy. 45 North
Starkville • 323-2684 Columbus • 327-2684
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 29
REINVENTION
Yellow Jackets fighting their way back to top
team won the 6A state title this season,
Starkville High quarterback Jaquez and girls basketball, volleyball, and the
Johnson (12) looks for throwing room girls and boys soccer and baseball had
against Columbus High. playoff seasons. The boys track team has
produced All-Americans and a two state
titles in the past three years.
Football, though, is the big ticket.
Missing out on a healthy gate at the
biggest venue on campus can put a strain
on an athletic department.
To regain interest in Starkville High
football, Mitchell has vowed to be an inte-
gral figure in fundraising and community
relations.
As he sees it, he has no choice.
“It’s how you build championship pro-
grams,” Mitchell said. “The community
has to have pride in its team, but this team
has to win ballgames. My job is to hit the
pavement and get out in the Starkville
community. We need them.”
Mitchell’s first day of spring practice
saw 89 players on hand. The Yellow
Jackets finished the fall with less than 50
on their roster. Low numbers, at least for
HANGE IS IN THE AIR FOR A FOOTBALL PROGRAM the spring, won’t be an issue.

C that has fallen on hard times. Usually, a team coming off a


postseason berth doesn’t need major renovation.
But when standards are far higher Fulton school.
Part of the reason Starkville’s numbers
were low in recent years centered around
eligibility. With proof that 3A or 4A roster
counts can happen at a 6A school, Mitchell
than current results, a new plan needs to Mitchell’s move to Starkville might is taking a hard-nosed approached to keep-
be mapped out. have seemed mistimed considering the ing his players on the field.
Back-to-back losing seasons and dimin- state of the SHS program and the roll he “It’s at the top of our chart,” Mitchell
ishing interest in the program produced was on at IAHS, but Class 6A jobs are cov- said. “We cannot afford to lose players
sparse crowds at Yellow Jacket Stadium in eted. because they’re not academically eligible.
the last two years of the Bill Lee era, which In his time at Olive Branch, Mitchell I’m a little bit behind the eight ball coming
includes the team’s last of its four state faced Tupelo, South Panola and Starkville in at the end of the school year. This time
titles (2001). in division play. next year, we’ll have a whole lot better
When Lee announced his retirement, it Since he left the Conquistadors to take grasp on kids’ grades. That’s something
left Starkville High with vacancies at the over in Fulton, the Jackets are 3-15 against we will monitor, probably by-weekly with
top of the athletic department and football Olive Branch, Tupelo, and South Panola, all of our kids.
program. the programs that are considered the best “We understand you can’t force a kid to
A familiar face in former principal Dr. in the region. pass, but we’re going to strongly encour-
Stan Miller was named athletic director, Title aspirations in Starkville have age them and they are going to under-
and his choice to lead Starkville football become simple talk as the “Big 3” have stand the importance of grades. We just
back to a championship level was Jamie controlled the region and faced a Starkville can’t lose kids, and that’s going to be
Mitchell, a noted program-rejuvenator. team that usually has earned the last play- stressed very heavily.”
Mitchell turned Itawamba Agricultural off spot. Mitchell has a list of needs and to-dos
High and Olive Branch High into consis- Mitchell’s approach is energetic and for the program on and off the field. He
tent playoff teams. He arrives in Starkville auspicious, and he enters at a burgeoning stressed the importance of identifying the
with a 40-10 record in four seasons at the time for SHS athletics. The boys basketball team’s specialists. He has Alvaro Pichardo

story by DAVID MILLER photos by DAVID MILLER and KELLY TIPPETT


30 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH ◆ SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
and Daniel Fumo from the SHS soccer graders and there’s no value you can put
team to work with, but he must replace on that time,” Mitchell said. “For us to get
last year’s snapper and holder. over there and get our hands on those
The offensive line is a key spot, too, as kids was critically important.
Jarrod Atterberry and Chris Prater are the “We had a very good week, and those
top returners. Size along the offensive and are classes that are going to be good for
defensive lines is lacking, especially com- us. It’s also important to build relation-
pared to division rivals. ships with kids of that age group.”
“There’s no question that’s where our ■ Starkville High basketball finally cap-
shortage is,” Mitchell said of the line size. tured the state title, but how they did it
“I’ve seen that in the couple weeks I’ve made for an even better story.
been there, but we’re going to have to take At 31-2, the Yellow Jackets turned in
what we’ve got and develop those guys. their most dominant season with the 6A
We’d love to have 6-5, 285 type guys but and Grand Slam crowns. Rashad Perkins
we don’t. What we’re going to do is take was named The Commercial Dispatch
the ones we have and coach them. “ Large Schools Player of the Year and The
Off the field, Mitchell and Miller have Clarion-Ledger’s Mr. Basketball, which is
campaigned for a new field house, though awarded to the state’s top player.
the odds of getting Starkville School Starkville posted a thrilling win against
District funding is highly unlikely. Jackson Lanier and shut down Rodney
Improving the playing surface at Yellow Hood in the 6A title win against Meridian.
Jacket Stadium is in Mitchell’s future Perkins, a senior power forward, led
plans, too. He also wants to improve team the Yellow Jackets with 22.3 points per
strength and cohesion with structured game and 13.3 rebounds, while point
weight lifting periods during school hours guard Edward Townsel averaged 18.8
for freshmen. points, 7.9 assists, and 4.5 steals per game.
Starkville High’s Chuck Tillery, left, and Mitchell met some of those future The Yellow Jackets had the state’s best
Billy Shed were two of the team leaders freshmen in the two weeks prior to the guard-forward combination and received
on offense. Their efforts helped the start of varsity spring practice. major contributions from sophomores
Yellow Jackets qualify for the Class 6A “We finished up with our junior high Gavin Ware, Mike Brand, and Calvin
North Half State playoffs. spring with next year’s eighth and ninth Young.

Proud to be a Yellowjacket!

Home of the Class 6A


and Grand Slam
Basketball
Championship

www sttark
www.starkville.k12.ms.us
kviille k12 ms us

Starkville School District SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 ◆ THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 31


Region 2 and led the region 205 runs. played one extra game this season, but it
R.J. Johnson led the team with a .492 was a special way to end a career on the
batting average and 12 home runs, while court.
outfielder Chuck Tillery batted .408 and Six upperclassmen got the chance to
had a team-high 38 runs. play in the postseason, taking second in
Johnson also led the team on the Class 3, Division 2 with a 12-18 overall
mound with a 2.72 ERA and 83 strikeouts. record and a 4-2 division mark.
“There’s guys on this team, like Chuck Starkville lost to Clinton in the opening
and R.J and Cody (Berryhill) who’ve start- round of the state playoffs, but it was the
ed for three or four years,” SHS baseball first block in first-year coach Lauren Love’s
coach Danny Carlisle said. “Then you take master plan.
Reggie (Campbell), who worked hard to “We grew a little bit every time we were
get where he is. Those guys have given a on the court,” Love said. “It was important
lot to this program, and I hate to see the for us to have that communication, both
year come to an end for them.” verbal and non-verbal.”
■ Brian Bennett knew his boys soccer Team leaders were Janae Poe (119
team was loaded and ready for a breakout kills), Deanna Rieves (38 blocks),
year roughly three years ago. Elizabeth Scott (63 aces), McKay
So when SHS started the season with Richardson (190 digs), and Wheeler
400-plus minutes of clean sheet soccer, Richardson (359 assists).
Bennett wasn’t surprised. ■ Year 2 of the Mimi Milling era of
“Guys just had to get experience,” Starkville softball showed movement in the
Bennett said. “We knew we were going to win column.
have the talent watching these kids play The Lady Jackets (5-14, 2-4 Class 6A
Select soccer.” Region 2) finished third in their region,
Starkville had just one senior on its but Milling’s squad managed four more
squad and built around its defensive soph- wins than it did in 2009.
omore trio in goalkeeper Addison Watson, Jonissa Buchanan had a breakout sea-
center back J.R. Tomlinson, and The son with a .395 batting average, 15 RBIs,
Starkville High’s Nick Brooks (1) arrives and 20 runs. Donnasha Hubbard hit .340
at third base safely as Columbus High’s Commercial Dispatch Player of the Year,
defender Price Day. with 11 RBIs, while East Mississippi C.C.
Avery Ford (5) covers. signee Tamara Bell hit .270 with 11
SHS finished 9-2-2 and pitched seven
■ The SHS girls basketball team exited shutouts. The team also posted its first RBIs.■
the playoffs early, but Kristie Williams’ shutout of state power Tupelo before
squad finished 16-9 and the runner-up in falling to Northwest Rankin in the opening
the Class 6A Region 2. round of the playoffs.
Expectations were high entering the The Yellow Jackets had four players
season coming off a region championship (Alvaro Pichardo, Tomlinson, Kase
after a North State run. The team, led by Kingery and Watson) make The
versatile seniors Kala Williams (18 points, Commercial Dispatch All-Area First Team.
5.5 rebounds) and Shay Bonner (13 points, Pichardo led the team with 11 goals.
4.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals), started the sea- Kingery scored five and had five assists.
son 12-1 before dropping four of six. ■ Lady Jacket soccer battled scoring
The Lady Jackets dropped a pair of one- woes in 2009-10 but still made the playoffs
point games to Kosciusko and South and finished 9-5.
Panola at the end of the regular season SHS lost to Madison Central in the first
and lost by four to Northwest Rankin in round of the playoffs but had Morgan
their satellite playoff game. Miller, Mariah Duck, Ida Knox, Christine
Still, the Lady Jackets posted their third Mazzola, and Bailey Clark make The
winning season in the past four years. Commercial Dispatch All-Area Soccer
Bonner signed with Itawamba Community Team.
College to give the Lady Jackets five col- Goalkeeper Raevonne Shoemaker fin-
lege signees in the past two seasons. ished with an 84-percent save rate and a
■ Starkville High enjoyed another sea- 60-percent shutout clip. She was named
son of playoff baseball after a 14-9 season. The Commercial Dispatch Player of the
The Yellow Jackets, though, had the Year, an honor Shoemaker took home
misfortune of facing defending state cham- after saving eight of 13 penalty kicks this
pion in Madison Central in the opening season.
round of the Class 6A postseason. The “The second you see those hips turn,
Jaguars swept the Yellow Jackets in the that’s where you go. I took pride in every
best-of-three series, but there were plenty PK I stopped,” Shoemaker said.
of highlights in the team’s second straight Miller scored six goals and Duck had Starkville High’s DeAnna Rieves gets
playoff season. five. into position to make a pass in a match
SHS finished second in Class 6A, ■ Starkville High’s senior volleyballers against Columbus.
32 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH ◆ SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
RTIE COSBY Starkville

A INHERITED A FULL
CUPBOARD when he
took over Starkville Academy
Academy
midfielder Roy
Miles, right,
and Jackson
Prep’s Tramel
soccer. He knew it, too. Reeves
converge on a
The former Mississippi State kicker
ball in their
had been involved with Starkville youth
Mississippi
soccer leagues and was aware of the
Association of
talented players he’d lead.
An undefeated regular season and Independent
No. 1 seed in the playoffs made the Schools
2009-10 boys soccer team the biggest playoff match
story in Starkville Academy athletics on Feb. 10 at
this year. the Starkville
The Volunteers wiped out Heritage Sportsplex.
Academy and Clarksdale Lee, posting a Jackson Prep
string of eight-plus goal games. It also won 5-0.

STARKVILLE ACADEMY SOCCER SHOWS

DOMINANCE story by DAVID MILLER photos by KERRY SMITH and KELLY TIPPETT

showed the ability to finish games with tect of a team that displayed incredible avoid the sub.-500 record in 08-09.
one-goal wins against Lamar School and balance on both ends of the field. Miles, the team’s midfield anchor,
Pillow Academy. Starkville Academy allowed 14 goals was one of five Starkville Academy play-
Cosby takes little credit for the suc- in 11 games, with five coming in its play- ers named to The Dispatch All-Area
cess, instead pointing to a dominant sen- off loss to Jackson Prep. Soccer Team. Jones, center forward Will
ior class that produced three college Right winger Frankie Jones ended Goodwin, goalkeeper Herston
signees. But there’s no denying the archi- his senior season with 10 goals and 10 Williamson and center back Jake Read
assists, while central midfielder Roy joined Miles on the list.
Miles had four goals and seven assists. With the exception of Williamson,
“Coming into the season, I knew Roy, who joined the team this season, the
Will (Goodwin) and Frankie,” Cosby Volunteers’ seniors had played together
said. “I had seen these guys growing up at Starkville Academy since the eighth
and remember seeing them at a UAB grade. That year, they went undefeated
camp several years back, so I knew we and tied Jackson Academy twice.
had some talent coming into the season. Miles knew it could be done again.
But I was surprised by some of the guys “We all played together and took the
who I didn’t know. game serious then,” Miles said. “We had
“Then I had no idea what the compe- a great chemistry then, and ever since
tition would be like with my first time in we were in the ninth grade we knew our
this league. Some games we’d win big senior year was going to be special. It
and I’d think, ‘We look good but gosh, honestly set in at the first practice (this
there’s got to be better teams.’ I knew year) when we were all there. The start-
there were teams from Greenville and ing team worked the ball great, and we
Greenwood who would always have tal- just felt it from that point.”
ent in Rec and Challenge.” Miles role with the team was crucial,
Lyndsey Haynes led the Starkville Washington and Pillow put up chal- as he formed a strong link with Read on
Academy fast-pitch softball team to lenges, but Starkville Academy’s roster the backline and Goodwin and Jones up
a 23-8 record. was loaded with experience and drive to top. Miles was a facilitator and ball-hawk
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 ◆ THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 33
Starkville Academy’s Bailey Wofford (5) slides in safely ahead of
the tag by Bayou Academy’s Laken Wilson (15).

for Cosby.

G
“That’s part of what made him such a good midfielder, just
having the attitude of always wanting the ball,” Cosby said.
“To want the ball, you’ve got to be in position to get the ball. RANITE
He always tried to make himself available, and he’s a very
smart player.” COUNTERTOPS
Kitchens • Bathrooms • Commercial
For every great team, certain things have to “go their way”
throughout the course of the season. A stroke of luck for a

The Granite
ball to bounce in your favor or a feared injury just turn into a
tweak is needed, but for the Volunteers they had a position to
worry about from the start of camp.

Guys
Josh Senter graduated and the team was faced with the
thought of moving Read in goal to replace the Mississippi
Gulf Coast signee. In came that stroke of luck.
Williamson, who’d played tackle for the football team and
first base for the baseball team, joined fall camp and quickly Specializing in the custom
established himself as the team’s No. 1 goalkeeper.
“It was obvious Herston had quick reflexes and good
fabrication and installation of granite, marble, and
hands,” Cosby said. “He got in goal and immediately started quartz.
stopping shots. With that, all we had to do was teach him the Please Visit Our Showroom at:
game.” 2859 South Frontage Road, Columbus
Williamson shed 20 pounds getting into soccer shape and
finished the season 104 saves and just 14 goals allowed.
“That was crucial for us, especially early when we were For an Estimate, please call:
thinking about putting Jake in goal,” Cosby said. “We just
couldn’t afford to put him in goal and leave too big of a gap in (662)329-8687
our defense. We had Jake out there kind of coaching Herston New Construction/Remodeling
through the game. Sometimes Herston didn’t know when he
could touch it. A lot of that was trial by fire for him.” We Move Mountains for your
The memorable season included a 2-2 comeback draw
against Starkville High and Goodwin and Miles signing with Countertops!
ICC. Defender Heath Walker signed with East Mississippi.
34 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
“We’ll take this experience and always remember it. You couldn’t ask for a better
season and how we came together.”
Starkville Academy midfielder Roy Miles

“We’ll take this experience and n Randy Haynes couldn’t have had a with youth, but fielded talented fresh-
always remember it,” Miles said. “You better swan song as Starkville men in leading scorers Sallie Kate
couldn’t ask for a better season and how Academy’s head softball coach. Richardson and Tiffany Huddleston and
we came together. Now I get to go do it After three years at the helm and goalkeeper Garland Willcutt.
at the college level.” three more as an assistant, Haynes guid- The team will lose three seniors, two
n Confidence was in the air prior to ed the Lady Volunteers to a 23-8 record of whom — defender Michelle Padgett
Starkville Academy’s season-opening and third place in the MAIS Class AAA and midfielder Anne Claire Craig —
football game against Ackerman. North Tournament. were named MAIS All-Stars.
Lifted by their positive outings in jam- Though the team narrowly missed n After a dominant 2008-09 basket-
boree season, the Volunteers were ready out on the playoffs, the Lady Vols had ball campaign, Clay Stringer probably
to shock opening weekend. three infielders and two outfielders to didn’t foresee the struggles the
It didn’t happen. Ackerman, eventual replace from the previous year. There Volunteers faced this season.
MHSAA Class 2A state runner up, left was no depth in the circle, either. Starkville Academy lost the likes of
jam-packed J.E. Logan Field with a 55-2 Starkville Academy beat rival Pillow Johnathan McKenzie, James Blair,
win. The Volunteers never recovered. Academy three out of four times this Brandon Sharp — starters the previous
Year 2 of Brian Sims’ tenure turned season and won the Starkville season — Will Goodwin and Jake Read
into an 0-11 season in which the Invitational to cap an 8-1 start. from the previous year.
Volunteers gave up 40 or more points in “If they had told me we’d be 23-8 at Juniors Patrick Jones and J.R.
six games. the end of the season, I would have just Gerhart became the elders of the team,
Injuries along the line came before took it right then,” Haynes joked. “I but with so many new pieces the
quarterback Will Goodwin was shelved couldn’t have ever dreamed, percentage- Volunteers were behind the curve in
with a knee injury. Inexperience took to wise, that we’d have that kind of a 2009-10. The Volunteers finished 1-23.
the field and Sims’ spread offense never record. I mean, we had girls who were Their lone win on the road against Oak
took off. starting for us that we had to teach to Hill brought a refreshing moment to a
With 15 straight losses dating back to throw a ball.” season filled with frustration.
2008, Sims resigned amid pressure and Pitcher Lyndsey Haynes was named Five juniors return next year, when
growing negative energy outside of the MAIS All-Star. Stringer is confident the accelerated
program. Catcher Bailey Wofford led the team minutes will have his players ready to
“I don’t worry about the parents so in batting and runs scored. have complete-game performances.
much as I do the kids,” Sims said. “I n Glenn Schmidt leaned on a trio of n Three coaches in the span of two
don’t listen to parents much because seniors and a freshman in the Lady months, including one gone incredibly
they seldom know what they are talking Volunteers solid season on the basket- wrong, highlighted the baseball team’s
about. I just felt like everybody was ball court. offseason.
pulling in different directions and obvi- Senior forward Maggie Gladney (9 The Volunteers’ season ended below
ously it was time for a change.” ppg., 4.5 rpg.), along with fellow upper- .500 and without a postseason place.
In steps Jeff Terrill, whom no one classmen Anne Claire Craig and Kylie Former head coach Justin Brewer
could have put on Starkville Academy’s Lockhart, helped guide the Lady accepted a job at Copiah-Lincoln
shortlist to replace Sims. The former Volunteers to a 19-15 record and a first- Community College, and the Volunteers
Itawamba Community College head round playoff berth. hired former New Hope High All-
coach became SA’s third coach in four Freshman guard/forward Tiffany American and former minor leaguer
years when he was introduced Dec. 17. Huddleston, a member of The Dispatch Shane Bazzell.
Terrill’s experience alone — 38-36 Large Schools All-Area Second Team, At his introduction, Bazzell spoke of
record at ICC — should give the pro- led the team with 11.6 points, 5.9 running a tight ship and having a disci-
gram a boost. The Vols hope the rebounds and 3.3 steals per game. plined ball club. On Jan. 15, his era
timetable for competing at a level com- As much of a key as Huddleston was came to an end when he was arrested
parable to the 2005 state title team is a to the Lady Vols’ success, transfer point for having a stolen four-wheeler in his
short span. guard Anna Prestridge (6.5 ppg., 3.1 front yard. Then, the Mississippi Bureau
“This is probably as low a situation as apg., 2.2 spg.) added stability and was of Narcotics completed a two-year drug
I’ve been involved in,” Terrill acknowl- often praised by Schmidt for her positive investigation and a grand jury indicted
edges. “When we inherited ICC, they assist to turnover ration. Bazzell on four felony counts of obtain-
were coming off a 3-6 season. In high n Artie Cosby’s first year at the ing Adderall by fraud.
school football, though, the turnaround school covered both soccer programs, Bazzell wasn’t retained and interim
can be quicker than expected. When and his start in the fall with the Lady coach Neal Henry took over. Henry led
you’ve got a younger players (sopho- Volunteers produced a playoff berth. the team to a 14-16 record, as it strug-
mores) that year of experience makes a The girls finished 7-7 and 7-4 in gled down the stretch after reaching 9-7
lot of difference.” North AAA contests. The team played overall and 4-5 in district play.n
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 35
The
Turning
Point
One game set tone for
East Oktibbeha success
story and photo by DAVID MILLER

OUR GAMES INTO

F THE 2009-10 BOYS


BASKETBALL SEASON,
the East Oktibbeha Titans
were falling well short of
coach Barnett Robinson’s East Oktibbeha High School boys basketball coach Barnett Robinson, right,
and leading scorer Doug Chandler helped the Titans to a 23-7 record and a
expectations. region title this season.
After winning a division tournament title in
2008-09, much was expected of a Titans squad and get back on D. ed East Oktibbeha in the South State tour-
“I knew we would have a good season nament.
that returned one of the area’s top scorers in
because we had a good team, even last year Despite losing Chandler, Sherman, and
Doug Chandler. And after sitting out most of
when we were struggling. When we brought Richardson, Robinson is confident the team
the previous season, forward Kirby Sherman
some more boys in this year, we had a feeling can continue the year-to-year improvement
was available to give Robinson the post pres-
we would have a good season. We just couldn’t he has seen in his three years at the helm.
ence the team lacked last season.
keep losing games like we were.” ■ The 2009 football season could have
When the Titans went to the West
Chandler formed an explosive backcourt had a much different ending if not for a play
Lowndes Tournament on Nov. 27, no one combination with junior Casey Neal, who here or a play there.
could have imagined how one win would averaged 10.4 points per game and a team- Second-year coach Anthony King’s
spark a breakout season and an undefeated high 3.1 steals per game. Titans raced to a 4-3 record after back-to-
division record. New to the starting lineup this season back 50-point wins against Thomastown and
That night, the Titans beat Ethel 71-60, was 6-foot-3 small forward Geonte Edinburg, only to see a pair of four-point
starting an 11-game winning streak that laid Richardson, who averaged 8.5 points and losses and a pair of six-point losses close the
the foundation for a Class 1A South State 7.5 rebounds and gave the Titans a top door on their playoff hopes.
final berth, where the Titans were one quar- perimeter threat on the team. The Titans (4-7, 3-6 Class 1A Region 3)
ter away from punching their ticket to Robinson felt he had a more complete also dropped a heartbreaking 26-24 match
Jackson. lineup and multiple scoring options to get at rival West Oktibbeha.
Robinson called the game “the turning the team through nights when opponents ■ Randy Brooks’ return to the sideline
point” in the team’s season, not because it entered the gym to stop Chandler. produced a winning record for the East
was the first of 23 wins but because of how “You can have a lot of talent, but getting Oktibbeha Lady Titans, who rebounded
the team played. players to put their egos aside and play team from a shaky start to earn a division runner-
“I worked them pretty hard that week in ball is the biggest thing,” Robinson said. “You up finish.
practice, and I think they saw that with hard never know what type of offense you are The Lady Titans lost their first five
work they could continue to win,” Robinson going to rely on each night. One night, you games before going 4-2 before the
said. “There’s not really much else than that. might have to feed it inside to Kirby. The next Christmas Break.
The guys just kept working from that point.” you may have to rely on Geonte shooting the The team had to overcome the uncer-
Chandler, who led the Titans with 18.7 ball from the outside. Then you might have to tainty of Alexius Selvie being available after
points per game and 2.7 assists, could pin- rely on Doug or Casey driving to the basket the point guard suffered a preseason injury.
point the team’s deficiencies early on and and pushing the ball. Then there was the adjustment period
made it a point to help reinforce what “We had choices this year, and the guys with Brooks taking over for Cynthia
Robinson was preaching. recognized that anybody on the team could Davenport, who guided the team to the
“We had to start focusing on our defense carry us.” 2007 Class 1A state title.
and using our big men,” Chandler said. “We Finishing 23-7 (10-0 in Class 1A, Region However, the team found stride and fin-
lost four straight, and I told the guys we had 5), the Titans beat Nanih Waiya for the ished with an improved record after a down
to do better, practice harder, run the floor, region tournament title. McAdams eliminat- season in 2008-09.■
36 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH ◆ SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
Faith
turned West
Oktibbeha around
story by DAVID MILLER photo by KELLY TIPPETT

UIETLY, THE WEST

Q OKTIBBEHA HIGH
SCHOOL FOOTBALL
TEAM used a surge of
West Oktibbeha High School
football coach Adam Lowrey
prays with his team.
enthusiasm and faith to make
one of the significant second ride provided more highs than lows “I didn’t see it coming with the way the
turnarounds in the area. and saw the team finish 5-6 record and fifth season turned out but after the Noxapater
in the re-worked Class 1A, Region 3. game we all knew.”
Both feelings came with winning foot- But after opening the season with back- With two weeks to install a new passing
ball, but faith came well before the team to-back losses to old division rivals East offense, the Timberwolves were in over-
went into the final week of the 2009 regular Webster and West Lowndes by a combined time against Noxapater and in a walkoff
season fighting for a playoff spot. margin of 70-6, Lowrey’s faith came close to scenario they hadn’t been in much.
In ’08, Adam Lowrey took over a faltering. The Timberwolves won 36-28 and fol-
Timberwolves program that was struggling “I wondered if it would turn around, but lowed with a pair of wins to put the team
in every way. The team hadn’t had a win- I didn’t know what would happen,” Lowrey above .500 for the first time since opening
ning season in two years, as the rigors of said. “It’s like pulling down that one-armed the ’07 season with a win against Falkner.
playing in a stacked division and dwindling bandit, waiting to see what comes up. But Quinn established himself as Smith’s go-
support left a mountainous task for the we hit it big. We hit all cherries. to receiver, racking up 572 yards and six
young head coach. “Can’t do nothing but thank the Lord.” touchdowns on 48 catches despite missing
His arrival during the fall semester that It was a breaking point, one that had to three games.
year was met with 15 players ready to dive come with application and extra work The Timberwolves scored 167 points
into what turned into a 1-9 season. toward team progress. Again, the idea of after managing just 59 the year before.
In six games that season, the “works and faith” prompted Lowrey and his “Me and the coaches started with build-
Timberwolves were held to eight points or staff to make major changes. ing a fort around Von,” Lowrey said. “We
less. He owed it to his kids, who had faith in knew he could throw, but we couldn’t get
Faith is hard to maintain when your him that he could lead them to wins. him hit. We built around our strength and
team is smaller than every opponent and Lowrey’s “best athlete” would ultimately put our great athlete at wide receiver to
losses become more lopsided by the week. carry the responsibility of leading the start. We really didn’t know what we were
And when no one cares, why bother? Timberwolves out of the offensive doing last year and still threw for 1,500
That’s where the Timberwolves were quandary that marred an entire season and yards.”
entering 2009 with virtually the same skele- showed every sign of scarring yet another. The finish has sparked interest, as
ton crew from ’08. Junior Dwight Quinn opened the season Lowrey has 29 players on his spring prac-
One constant, even as the team saw kids as the team’s starting quarterback, but the tice roster. The hallways and the class-
join the team and flake out days or weeks offense wasn’t built for the inexperienced room, though, haven’t completely jumped
later, was Lowrey’s belief that the happi- offensive line that still lacked size. on board.
ness they wanted from football would come A different approach was needed, and Faith, again, applies to what Lowrey and
as long as the team worked hard and Lowrey brought the idea of starting fresh- Quinn believes is the last element needed
believed in Christ. man wideout Von Smith at quarterback and to take the program to higher heights.
“Faith without works is dead. And when Quinn at receiver. “It was kind of hard because some of us
you have no faith at all, there will be no Quinn didn’t need much persuasion got the big heads,” Quinn said, “but to be
works,” Lowrey said. “If you believe in from Lowrey; he knew Smith could excel honest, some of the people in our school
something greater than yourself, you can and that a drastic change had to be made. don’t even cheer for us. They cheer for
fail and still rise up and have something “I always knew it would work because East Webster down the road. So it was hard
pull you up. The same goes for the team as Von is going to make it work,” Quinn said. not to come back to school and feel like ‘I
a whole. That camaraderie and faith in each “If one thing doesn’t go right, he’s going to told you so.’
other can pull you out of tough spots.” find a way to get around it. He likes to “We feed off that negativity and we like
The ’09 season would be much like the come to me, and we talk about football that because we’ve already been through
roller coaster of the previous year, but the throughout the day. so much more.”n
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 37
MOTIVATION
W
West Point looks to defend state championship in 2010

EST POINT HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH CHRIS CHAMBLESS isn’t having any trouble motivating
his players to work hard in preparation for the 2010 season.
West Point High players have set their “We’re always going to have some good
sights on repeating as state champions memories, but we’re already feeding off of
after winning the Mississippi High School it going into the next year,” Chambless
Activities Association Class 5A state cham- said. “We’ve worked extremely hard in the
pionship in 2009. offseason so far. I hope that will carry over
West Point won the sixth state title in so we can make another run if we can.
school history on Dec. 5, 2009, when it “These guys coming back, I constantly
beat Wayne County 35-14 at Mississippi remind them that to have true ownership
Memorial Stadium in Jackson. of a state championship you have to win it
West Point (14-1) won its final 14 games as a senior. That’s what the juniors coming
after a season-opening loss to Shannon to up as seniors want next year. They want West Point coach Chris Chambless led
cap a season the players and coaches will their own. That’s what they’re working the Green Wave to their sixth state
remember for the rest of their lives. for.” championship in school history.

story by HENRY MATUSZAK photos by STAN BEALL

38 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010


areas and some areas I thought we should
have been much better in,” West Point
coach Buddy Wyers said. “We improved
offensively. We improved as a team. We’re
still not where we need to be by any
means, but we did go through some pretty
good stretches.”
The Green Wave started their win
streak on April 9, when they beat Oxford
in a district game.
“We went through about a week and a
half where we won several games and won
some pretty big games,” Wyers said.
■ The fast-pitch softball team made the
MHSAA Class 5A state playoffs and fin-
LaKenderic Thomas rushes ished 5-14.
through West Point’s offensive line “I thought we improved through the
year, and I think we’ll continue to improve
Winning the state championship was coaches. We knew we could do better and the next few years,” West Point coach
the realization of a dream come true for we preached that all year in the offseason Libby Forrester said.
the Green Wave. and going into the season. They didn’t ■ The boys soccer team experienced
“You set goals every year, and your ulti- accept giving anything less. They got growing pains with an inexperienced team
mate goal is to win a state championship,” tougher. That’s how we approached things and lost all six of its matches.
Chambless said. “We try to set three dif- That made us better.” “We were kind of young,” West Point
ferent levels. We want to do is win our non- Six West Point High football players coach Blake Hutchinson said. “We only
conference games and get better. You want signed scholarships in February. Michael had three seniors. We had a lot of young
to win your district. Then you want to go Carr and Curtis Virges signed with guys with some who had never played
into the playoffs and try to win a state Mississippi State, Jeremy Cannon, Xavier before. They played hard. I was proud of
championship. You just want to accomplish Hogan, and Matthew Lewis signed with them. It seems like we got better every
one step at a time. It’s kind of like climbing East Mississippi Community College, and game and by the end of the year we were
up a ladder. That’s how we approached it.” Desmond Boyd signed with Hinds C.C. in every game we played. We were proud
West Point beat Canton 36-0, Pearl 34-7, By winning the state championship, the of them in that aspect.”
and New Hope 41-21 in the first three Green Wave created excitement in the ■ The girls soccer team went winless
rounds of the playoffs before adding the West Point community and captured the in 10 matches.
final piece of the championship puzzle by imagination of their fans. “We could have been better if we would
beating Wayne County. The Green Wave’s goal now is to give have worked harder,” West Point coach
The Green Wave outscored their oppo- the fans another special year to remember Keith Manning said.
nents 485-177 en route to the champi- with another state championship. ■ The volleyball team didn’t win a
onship, averaging 32.3 points and allowing ■ The boys basketball team finished 8- match in Dionne Keys’ final season as
11.8 points per game. 16 and Winston Varnado resigned after the coach.
The championship was Chambless’ first season to assist his son, Jarvis, prepare for Keys has retired after 24 years of coach-
as a head coach, and he said he’ll always a career in professional basketball. Jarvis ing girls sports at West Point High and has
have special memories. set the NCAA record for career blocked moved to Collins.
“Things pop in your head all the time,” shots this season as a senior center at “We’d always maybe win two (games)
Chambless said. “You just try to recapture Mississippi State. and they would come back and win three,”
those feelings you had when the last sec- Former Oak Hill Academy boys coach Keys said. “We were competitive but we
onds ticked off the clock. That’s one of the Brad Cox replaced Varnado on an interim never could get over the hump. We
most memorable things, looking up and basis and is expected to become the new enjoyed the season. We just didn’t do as
seeing the score and knowing you came coach. well as we could have. I had a young team
out on top. That’s probably the most mem- ■ The girls basketball team made it to because I had mostly seniors the year
orable moment I’ve ever had.” the first round of the Class 5A North State before. I had maybe two girls that played
West Point won the title after going 12- Tournament and finished the season 17-8. at all from last year and all the other girls
2, 11-2, and 8-3 Chambless’ first three “I think we peaked at the right time,” this was like their first year to play. It was a
years as head coach. West Point coach Jemmye Ann Helms young team full of freshmen and sopho-
The Green Wave put it all together in said. “We were playing good right before mores.”
2009 after coming up short the previous district. I was excited. I was proud of my ■ The girls track finished fifth in
three years. girls.” regionals at Oxford and didn’t qualify for
“They were just determined,” Kelsei Ewings averaged 22 points and North State.
Chambless said. “The season we had a five assists per game to lead the team. Nekeisha Walker finished fifth in the
year ago (2008) probably helped us more ■ The baseball team had a six-game long jump and the 4x100 and 4x200 relay
than anything because we weren’t good winning streak during the season and fin- teams of Walker, Jemeka King, Malikah
enough and to them that was unaccept- ished 10-14. Quinn and Elizabeth Salmon finished fifth
able. It was unacceptable to me and the “There were some positives in some at regionals.■
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 ◆ THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 39
Contributed

CHANGE
COMPETING IN A NEW DISTRICT BREATHES LIFE INTO
OAK HILL WITH A FEW BUMPS ALONG THE WAY
story by HENRY MATUSZAK AK HILL ACADEMY GIRLS BASKETBALL COACH

O STAN HUGHEY had good reason to like playing in a new


district this past season.
Hughey’s Lady Red Raiders didn’t lot of disappointments, too. “
lose a league game in their first year in Oak Hill was in the same division
Mississippi Association of Independent with Carroll Academy, Manchester
Schools North District 2AA en route to Academy, and Winston Academy.
a 21-12 record. Bonnie Riley led Oak Hill Academy
“Any time we don’t have a chance to in scoring with 16 points per game,
compete for a state (title) it’s a disap- while sophomore Tori Ellis added 15
pointment, but it was fun to be in a dif- points per game. Senior Megan Holton
ferent district and have a district tourna- paced the team in rebounding with
ment,” Hughey said. “We went undefeat- eight per game. Riley added 7.5 per
ed in the district, and that was pretty game.
neat. Any time you win any kind of “Bonnie was so good at creating her
Oak Hill Academy girls basketball coach own shot off the dribble,” Hughey said.
championship, whether it a district or
Stan Hughey poses for a picture with
the school’s All-District players. From state or North State or whatever, it’s “She scored a lot of her points by taking
something the kids remember. There the ball to the basket.”
n The football team lost to Lamar
left: seniors Megan Holton and Bonnie
Riley and sophomore Tori Ellis. were some highlights, but there were a

40 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010


“We were proud to make the playoffs
just because there’s been so little history
of football success at Oak Hill.”
Oak Hill Academy football coach Leroy Gregg

School in the first round of the MAIS Class AA state playoffs


and finished 3-9.
“We were proud to make the playoffs just because there’s
been so little history of football success at Oak Hill,” Oak Hill
Academy football coach Leroy Gregg said. “We were proud of
that, but we weren’t proud of how our record ended up.”
The Raiders were decimated by injuries. Running back
Jake Orman suffered an AC joint sprain the fourth game of
the season against Leake Academy. Quarterback Davis
Clayton suffered a knee injury in the ninth game against Kirk
Academy.
Orman rushed for more than 500 yards in the first three
games before getting hurt.
“We had some very untimely injuries, but that’s part of
football, too,” Gregg said. “It just seems the people you could
without the least are the ones who end up with the injuries.”
n The boys basketball made it to the MAIS District 2AA
North State tournament and finished 11-17.
“We had only eight players,” Oak Hill Academy coach
Brian Middleton said. “We only lost one, so we’ll have seven
back next year. The junior high won the district and finished Oak Hill Academy football coach Leroy Gregg

LIVE IT UP!
19-5, so we’re moving up a lot of young talent. We’ve got our
two leading scorers coming back. We’re enthusiastic about
that.”
The leading scorers were junior Zach Bryan (12 ppg.) and
Steven Jones (10 ppg.).
n The baseball team missed the playoffs by one game and
finished the season 6-13.
“We were just a young, inexperienced team that got better
as the season went along,” Oak Hill Academy coach Marion
Bratton said. “Our pitching was so young we couldn’t get four
innings out of a pitcher. I wasn’t going to hurt a kid’s arm. We
just didn’t have any depth. We did the best that we could.”
Oak Hill Academy’s playoff chances took a hit when pitch-
er Kale Pierce was unable to finish the season for undisclosed
reasons.
“He was that one guy that was good enough to get us a
win on Thursday nights and we needed one against Carroll
and one against Winston and we would have been in the play-
offs,” Bratton said. “He also was probably our best hitter. He
Just like your family,
would have been our MVP.”
n The fast-pitch softball team placed third in the MAIS we are so proud of you!
Class AA North State tournament, second in its conference
and finished 13-11. Thanks for making your high
Oak Hill Academy played the season without its No. 3 and
No. 4 hitters, Mary Helen Hays and Paige Dawkins. school days, one of our best!
“We struggled to score runs this year,” Bratton said.
“Mamie Allen pitched very well for us. We played a lot of low-
scoring ballgames where we lost by one run. Almost every
Dr. James L. Holzhauer
game we played was like 3-2, 4-3, 1-0, you know, those kind of Emily Jamison, CFNP
ballgames. We weren’t in any blowouts. We were playing 505 Willowbrook • Columbus • 329-9191
some younger girls and they got an opportunity to play.”n
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 41
WRITING ON THE
WALL

Hebron Christian baseball coach


Greg Watkins, left, received key
contributions from Dylan Prisock
(11), J.D. Edwards (13), and Blake
Harrell (22) en route to another
district championship and a 14-6
finish.

Tradition inspires Hebron Christian finished in a three-way tie for first place in
Mississippi Association of Independent Schools North District
3A with Central Academy and Winona Christian and won a

Hebron Christian’s tiebreaker to be declared the district champ.


“These are the first two years we’ve ever won district,”
Hebron Christian coach Greg Watkins said. “After winning the
district title dynasty district last year and the kids getting to write their names on the
wall and doing it again this year, it has kind of started a tradition.
Next year’s group was talking, ‘We’re going to win district and
story by HENRY MATUSZAK we’re going to write our names on the wall.’ ”
Hebron Christian (14-6) repeated as district champion
despite losing six starters from the previous year.
HE HEBRON CHRISTIAN BASEBALL TEAM

T
“That was big for this group,” Watkins said. “We lost a lot
has started a trend it hopes it can continue for from last year. We started out slow. The kids kept working hard-
years to come. er and harder and we just improved over the year. We played
some pretty good ball.”
For the second year in a row, Hebron Christian’s seniors Dylan Prisock, Blake Harrell, and J.D. Edwards hit better
signed their names on the wall in the dugout as a tribute to win- than .400, while Kevin Simmons hit better than .300 to lead
ning a district championship. Hebron Christian. Prisock, Harrell, and Will Corbin Rogers led
In addition, this season marked the second year all of the the team on the mound.
players signed a block in the dugout in recognition of being Prisock was MVP of the district and chosen to play in the
district champs. MAIS All-Star game, Edwards was the district’s offensive MVP

42 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010


“We lost a lot from last year. We started out slow. The kids kept working harder and
harder and we just improved over the year. We played some pretty good ball.”
Hebron Christian coach Greg Watkins

and chosen to play in the


MAIS All-Star game, and
Harrell was the district’s co-
defensive player of the year.
n The football team fin-
ished 4-6 in Watkins’ first sea-
son as coach.
“It went pretty good,”
Watkins said. “We had a real
tough schedule. Our goal was
the make the playoffs and we
fell short, really one touch-
down pass short of making the
playoffs. We’ve got a lot of
excitement for next year’s
team. We’ve got some return-
ing starters at skill positions,
which we didn’t have last year.
Our numbers will be up five or
six compared to what we have

n The boys basketball


had.” “It was great,” said Watkins, Greg Watkins, left, guided the Hebron Christian football team
who also coaches girls basket- to a 4-6 record in his first season.
team finished 12-8 in Gary
Vaughan’s last year as head ball. “These girls worked hard.
coach. When you win four straight
“I’m going to step down,” you have that bull’s-eye on you
Vaughan said. “I’ve had some and this year it was pretty
health issues. I’m an old tough. In the district tourna-

YOU
retired public school coach ment we ended up having to
and administrator. I’ve been go to overtime in the final
doing this for a lot of years game. It was a big achieve-

WIN
now and probably getting a lit- ment for them to have won it
five years in a row.”
n The softball team fin-
tle too old to keep the fast pace
you have to do to coach.”
Hebron Christian was ished 13-11 after placing sec-

Thanks
besieged by injuries through- ond in its district and making it
to the Mississippi Association
out the season. The team’s of Independent Schools Class
leading scorer, junior Carlton A North State Tournament.

for a
Clay (14 points per game), “Early in the season we just
missed games with a twisted didn’t have it for whatever rea-
knee and illness, point guard son,” Hebron Christian coach

GREAT
Blake Harrell broke his ankle Cass Tapley said. “We lost
and missed the district and
some game, some really close,
regional tournaments, and
that we didn’t expect to. About

Year!
Chad Smith broke his hand.
halfway through the season we
“We just sort of had some
got it turned around and then
bad things to happen to us,”
they responded like I had
Vaughan said. “It just seemed
expected them to. I think we
like every time we would get
were 10-1 through our last 11
something going, something
games. We finished well,
n The girls basketball team
would happen.”
which was like what we
went 19-7 and won its fifth con- expected early in the season.
secutive district championship. We just ran out of gas in the
Hebron Christian beat North State Tournament. It
Immanuel Christian Academy ended on a pretty good
note.”n
427 Main Street • Columbus • 662-328-1000
in the championship game.
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 43
OF THE
PLAYERS WEEK
2009-2010
LYNDSEY HAYNES TORI FIELDS JACOB ACKER JAMERSON LOVE LANDON ELLIS JOSH POE
Starkville Academy Heritage Academy Pickens Academy Aberdeen Victory Christian West Oktibbeha
Fast-pitch softball Girls soccer Football Football Football Football

TERRANCE DENTRY LEDRICK DEION CURRY JAQUEZ JOHNSON DAMIAN BAKER MICHAEL
New Hope PATTERSON Pickens County Starkville High Columbus High BRADFORD
Football East Webster Football Football Football Lamar County
Football Football

TREVOR EAVES MARCQUIS PLANT AARON ANDREWS QUINTON JUSTIN COX MICHAEL CARR
Central Academy Lamar County Aberdeen STURDIVANT West Point West Point
Football Football Football Pickens County Football Football
Football
44 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
CATHERINE RASHAD PERKINS EDWARD TOWNSEL KALA WILLIAMS TYLER WHITE FRANKIE JONES
JOHNSON Starkville High Starkville High Starkville High Heritage Academy Starkville Academy
Starkville High Boys basketball Boys basketball Girls basketball Boys basketball Boys soccer
Girls basketball

PRICE DAY CALLIE MINOR JUSTIN JAMES DAQUARIUS PICKENS JOSEPH MACGOWN
Starkville High Pickens Academy Immanuel Christian MALLARD ACADEMY Starkville Academy
Boys soccer Girls basketball Boys basketball Noxubee County Girls basketball Track and Field
Boys basketball

KELLI PETTY STARKVILLE HIGH R.J. JOHNSON TYJI HAWKINS JOSH TENTONI DYLAN EARNEST
New Hope High Boys basketball Starkville High Columbus High Columbus High Hamilton High
Track and Field Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball

AUSTIN WELCH DAVIS LEE JAKE SMITH JESSICA COMER RICHARD WILL GOODWIN
Hamilton High New Hope High New Hope High Caledonia High CHRISTOPHER Starkville Academy
Baseball Baseball Baseball Track and Field Heritage Academy Track and Field
Track and Field
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 ◆ THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 45
46 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH ◆ SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
CHEER, BAND
ACTIVITIES
New Hope
High School
Marching Band
Roster
Takika Abrams, Kristy
Alexander, Sherrie
Alexander, Karansa
Anderson, Destiny Bailey,
Spencer Bailey, Amberle
Baucom, Austin Beatty,
Hunter Brown.
Larissa Bruce, Amanda
Burleson, Shane Burns, Marquis Gray, Rayon Laminack. Robertson, Josh Robison.
Justin Cline, Chris Cole, Greason, Alexis Green, Sarah Latham, Laterrica Iesha Rockett, Willie
Katherine Cole, Megan Amanda Green, Tevin Henley, Lockett, Ryan Lowe, Morgan Sharp, Haley Swims, Chelsea
Coleff, Alexandria Coleman, Rebecca Hicks, Jameson McNabb, Aaron Miller, Taylor, Rashad Terry, Ciara
Ashley Craddieth, Leebo
Holder, Juwan Hunter, Tyler Andrew Miller, Tavares Turner, Caitlin Urton, Taylor
Davis.
Hurt, Rebecca Hyde. Mixon, Miracle Moore, Vick, Alicia Vickers.
Nicole Davis, Amy
Dempsey, Brianna DeRosia, Antoinette Ingram, Kevin Breana Newton. Gunner Vowell, Angel
Jacob Elsmore, Justin Jasko, Cindy Jennings, David Newton, Deshon Weeks, Terry Weiser, Jakeyia
Elsmore, Franklin Fairley, Brandon Johnson, Shaniqua O’Neil, Chris Paine, Brittani Wells, NiKevia Wells, RiKevia
Beth Feazel, Jaquari Jones, Tiara Jones, Amy Paster, Maci Peoples, Wells, Jada Williams, Jasmine
Ferguson, Lee Fisher, Ariel Kimbrel, Cameron Lamar, Brittney Perkins, Tiffany Williams, Laketa Williams,
Gordon. Alex Laminack, John Pullum, Acia Rice, Andrea Sarah Young

Play it safe on the fi


field...
eld...
Play it safe on your tires!
• Tires
• Struts
• Lube
• Oil
• Filters
• Brakes
• Shocks
2009-10 Caledonia High School Varsity Cheerleaders
Haley Benson, Jessica Comer, Chelsey Eliott, Haley Ellis
Carlee Gurley, Robbin Hamilton, Kailey Lavender, Mara
Lovick, Savannah McGhee, Jaime Moore, Kaleigh Reynolds,
Ashton Sheppeard, Peyton Stanley
Camp: UCA Cheer Camp – Mississippi State University –
June 2009
Squad Awards: First place Home Pom Routine and 3rd
Place Cheer Champions
LOWNDES COUNTY RADIAL TIRE
“Get the World’s Best Selling Tires at Great Prices”
All-America Cheerleaders: Robbin Hamilton, Jessica Comer, 1512 Highway 45 N. • (662) 327-3311
Ashton Sheppeard
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 47
CHEER, BAND ACTIVITIES

Heritage Academy Junior High Dance Team Heritage Academy Varsity Dance Team
First Row: Lexi Bennett, Alli Ridilla, Ashley Allsup, Cara First Row: Leslie Ferguson, Taylor Cabiness, Hannah Higgins,
Dixon, Alliemarie Brooks, Margaret LeBrun JoAnna West
Second Row, Katherine Maer Kerby, Glenn Brown, Evelyn Ray, Second Row: Caroline Glenn, Katie Beck, Katie Ferguson,
Laura Stennett, Kirby Smith, Mixson Bateman, Emily Laurel McCoy, Mary Dade Ford, Anna Gaines Gaskin, Alex
Markham Kloor

Heritage Academy Dance Team Honors n Junior High received third place at Thanksgiving Day Parade in Disney
n Junior High and Varsity received Delta Blues Competition. World: Cara Dixon (Junior High); Mary
n Junior High and Varsity competed Dade Ford and Alex Kloor (Varsity)
n Hannah Higgins and JoAnna
first place in Home Routine at University
of Alabama “UDA” summer camp. in the National Dance Team
n Varsity received second place at Championship in Orlando, Fla. West participated in the Macy’s
MAIS State Competition. n All-Stars and participated in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

at io n s!
gr a tu l
Co n Heritage Academy Cheerleaders
First Row: Elaine Curtis, Montgomery Atkins, Katie Hopper,

BROOKS EYE CENTER


Lillia Flora; Second Row: Jessie Householder, Stephanie
Cruise, Kimberly Sansing, Caroline Borland, Morgan Lott,
Christie Beth Nelson, Chandler Jones; Third Row: Lauren
James E. Brooks, O.D.
Brown, Claire Wiygul, Bailey Rader, McKenzie Jones, Ashley
Rhett The cheerleaders won second place in the Home Pom
3545 Bluecutt Road • Columbus, MS Routine Competition and received the Leadership Award,
662-327-2020 which was voted on by all camp participants at Mississippi
State University.
“We examine more than your eyes.”
48 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
CHEER, BAND
ACTIVITIES

Heritage Academy Band students, from left, Noah Lind,


Timmy Lind, Jenna Petrel, Amanda Wei, and Diana Park all
earned superior ratings at the Starkville Academy Solo and
Ensemble Festival recently.

Heritage Academy Band


The Heritage Academy Patriot Band participated in the MAIS
Spring Band Festival April 1 at Jackson Academy’s new per-
forming arts center. These students performed a concert
before three judges and earned superior ratings from each
judge. The Patriot Band then performed a sight-reading exer-
cise in which they also made a superior rating. The Patriot
Band includes, front row, from left, Ryan Walford, Noah Lind,
Mary Grace Crenshaw, Katy Whitman, Alex Kloor, and
Dawnice Mullins; back row, from left, Timmy Lind, Amanda
Wei, Jenna Petrel, Diana Park, Ann Marie Chilcutt, and
These Heritage Academy students took part in MSU band day Goodloe Chilcutt. Not pictured is Julie Cunningham.
and performed on the field at halftime. The students are, from
left, Goodloe Chilcutt, Noah Lind, Timmy Lind, Ann Marie
Chilcutt and Jenna Petrel.

R
Rodney A. Ray
AT T O R N E Y AT L A W

301 Fifth Street South


Suite B
Columbus, Mississippi 39701
Phone: (662) 329-0110
Licensed in the States of Mississippi and Florida

Experience • Integrity • Results


SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 49
CHEER, BAND ACTIVITIES

Victory Christian Academy Varsity Cheerleaders


Front row, from left, Shelly Coleman, Asia Taylor, Maggie
Gardner, Heather Sullivan, Katelin Byrd, Mary Kate Lemmons,
Alyka Hamm, Mikayla Gore, Brittany Jones; back row, from
left, Leah Potter, Macy Tilley, Kate McDill, Julianna Gorman,
Immanuel cheerleaders Sarah McDaniel, Leah Taylor, Rachel Johnson
Front row, from left, Nyki Baudoin, Shelly Westmoreland, This year the cheerleaders competed at CCA summer camp
Amber Shoffner, Tia Baudoin; back row, from left, Tori and won numerous spirit and technique awards. They also
Fitzgerald, Katy Whitten Davidson won first place at state competition for ACEAA.

Starkville Academy Varsity Cheerleaders


At the Universal Cheerleading Association Beach Club in Gulf
Shores, Ala., the Starkville Academy cheerleaders received first
Columbus High School Cheerleaders
Columbus High School cheerleaders are, front row, from left,
place in Extreme Routine, second place in Home Pom, second Lena Jackson, Khadijah Lee, Sharell Harris, Tierney Sanders;
place in Camp Cheer and also received the Banana (spirit back row, from left, Sarah Weatherby, Marissa Hackler and
award). The UCA All-Americans were Lindsey Norman, Kylie Megan Kesler.
Lockhart, Neely Cook and Shelby Carpenter. Starkville Academy
Varsity Cheerleaders won the Mississippi Association of
Independent Schools State Championship for 2009. The squad
was coached by Sandra Gladney and Lisa Atwell. Cheerleaders,
left to right, front to back) seniors Anne Howard Steinwinder
and Brooke Bryan, co-captains, Lindsey Norman and Rachel
Fuller; Maggie Gladney, and Kylie Lockhart; juniors Shelby
Carpenter, Lauren Morgan, Neely Cook, Anna-Marie Foster and
Kali Burney; sophomores Erin Lindley, Anna Prestridge, Kat
Garrard, Elizabeth Crissey, Lauren Atwell and Caitlin Russell.

50 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010


VOLLEYBALL
ALL AREA
VOLLEYBALL
“That pretty much fits her to a T,” said
Aberdeen High volleyball coach Marquis
Burnett when describing Jameika
Hoskins, The Commercial Dispatch’s
Volleyball Player of the Year. “She would
never think about bragging on herself or
anything she has accomplished.”
If Hoskins has a fault as an athlete, it
would be she shies away from taking a
more active role as a vocal leader.
“She’s not as vocal as I would like her
to be, but she leads by example,” Burnett
said. “Her play on the court makes up for
her lack of vocal leadership.”
Burnett, who is just as soft-spoken as
his star, said Hoskins is one of the best
players he has coached.
“Jameika is what I would call a ‘student
of the game’, and she is the best hitter to
play at Aberdeen hands down,” said
Burnett, who credits good vertical leaping
ability and long arms as the keys to the
power behind Hoskins’ kills and her
blocking.
“She constantly drew double teams
when we set her because no one could
block her one-on-one,” Burnett said.
“What makes her even more dangerous is
she knows when to use her power and
when to tip. Anything around the net, she
wins that point.”
Hoskins’ setting skills also drew praise
from Burnett.
“Jameika is also an excellent setter
with good court vision,” Burnett said.
“When she first started as a freshman,
that’s what she did best. But since she has
turned into a hitter, she has become all
that much better.”
Burnett, who just completed his fifth
year at the helm of the Aberdeen High
volleyball program, will be the first to
admit Aberdeen isn’t considered a volley-
ball hotbed.

A LEVEL HEAD “Our girls don’t play year-round and


they don’t attend any camps,” Burnett
said. “We get together two weeks before
school starts, we go over some things,
Aberdeen High’s Hoskins dominates and then we go out and play.”
Burnett said that’s what makes
competition with a humble attitude Hoskins such a special player.
“There’s no telling how good she could
story and photo by DON ROWE be if she played year-round,” Burnett said.
“The sky is the limit as far as her potential
ADLY, CHEST-POUNDING, TRASH-TALKING ATHLETES WHO

S
is concerned.”
UTILIZE FLAMBOYANT GESTURES while playing the Hoskins led the state in blocks with
“look-at-me” game to the hilt are all-to-often the norm today. an average of 1.5 per game (68 total, 65
solo). She also had 118 kills in 189
Today, it’s almost inconceivable some- her opponents at the net can, at the same attempts for a 62 percent kill percentage
one who has been described by friend time, be a reticent, humble, and some- and an average of 2.7 per game (10th in
and foe alike as a “powerful, explosive what shy individual who is uncomfortable the state) and was credited with 32 serv-
player” who has the ability to demolish when thrust into the limelight. ing aces (34th). n
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 51
SOFTBALL
ALL AREA
FAST-PITCH

LOOKING BACK
Haynes reflects
on successful
senior year
story and photo by ADAM MINICHINO

YNDSEY HAYNES DOESN’T


L 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 sea-
son 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.
But while missing the state tournament
stung a little bit, Haynes has focused more
on the team’s success. The Lady
Volunteers’ 23-8 finish was their best in
recent memory, and Haynes had a lot to
do with it.
Whether it was in the circle or at the
plate, Haynes had a knack for delivering
in the clutch.
For her accomplishments this season,
Haynes is The Commercial Dispatch Fast-
pitch Player of the Year.
Haynes finished the season with a 1.56
ERA and a batting average of .407. sive considering she pitched against Oak was going to throw. The tell-tale sign for a
Starkville Academy coach Randy Hill Academy, Central Academy, Kemper fastball might have been a flip of the hair,
Haynes, who is Lyndsey’s father, credits Academy, and Leake Academy in four of but coach Haynes said he trusted his
coach Kyle Morgan for helping to get all the five days leading up to the event. catcher and pitcher so much he left calling
of the Lady Volunteers in shape in the off- The work didn’t seem to faze Haynes, pitches up to them.
season and preseason. He said the work
who faced 107 batters in 22 innings. She Haynes had success because she
the players did helped Lyndsey, who was
walked seven, struck out 26, and allowed threw in the upper 50s and low 60s and
coming back after having surgery to
27 hits in the tournament. mixed a tantalizing changeup. She had a
repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in
her left knee, return with stronger legs, “Coach Morgan helped explain to her lot of success with the pitch at the North
which benefited her in the circle. and get across to her that this was her Half State tournament and in the MAIS
In August, Haynes earned four victo- senior season,” coach Haynes said. “He All-Star game, where she was named the
ries to help the Lady Volunteers win the talked to her about leadership and how all MVP for the North Half. She had six RBIs
Starkville Invitational Tournament at the of the young players looked up to her and in two games.
Mississippi State intramural fields. She that they were going to follow her lead.” “It became such a weapon,” Haynes
earned victories against Winston Haynes also credited catcher Bailey said of his daughter’s changeup. “There
Academy, Central Academy, and two Wofford, who has caught Lyndsey for the wasn’t anybody until we got to the All-Star
against Pillow Academy to help her team past three seasons. The duo had a unique game, where there were a couple of kids
win its first tournament title since 2004. system in which they didn’t use conven- with enough talent to deal with it. Her
Haynes’ effort was even more impres- tional signs to indicate what pitch Haynes changeup became really, really good.” n
52 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
SOFTBALL
ALL AREA
SLOW-PITCH Both players agreed that their ability to settle into new or
changed roles from the previous seasons was another piece to
the puzzle that helped their teams win championships.
“One of my team goals was for us to win state and for me to
end up batting over .500, and we accomplished both of those
goals,” Atkins said. “I think I played better than I expected
myself to, and that at the end I really stepped up.”
Atkins said relaxation was the key. She said she believed more
in herself and didn’t get caught up in a power-hitting struggle on
a team that featured two players — Hannah Howell and Chauncia
Willis — with six home runs and another — Katie Beth Dahlem
— with four.
“She just loves the game,” Hamilton coach Lewis Earnest said.
“She put in the time, worked hard for it, and it paid off for her.”
Earnest said Atkins started the season as pitcher and moved
to the outfield because her sister, Alison, was able to throw
strikes and to hit
enough to contribute.
Alison Atkins’ effec-
tiveness helped improve
the Lions’ defense
because Caitlyn’s athleti-
cism was an added
bonus in the outfield.
Atkins paced
Hamilton (19-9) with 43
runs scored, 51 hits, 10
doubles, and a .567 bat-
ting average. She also
was fourth on the team
in RBIs (24), second on
the team in on-base per- Hamilton High School coach Lewis Earnest,
centage (.596), and left, and New Hope High coach Tabitha
fourth in slugging per- Beard guided their teams to slow-pitch state
centage (.733). championships in 2009.
“We were worried
moving her in the lineup might mess her up a little bit,” Earnest
said. “It didn’t. She just picked right up and kept on going.”
New Hope High coach Tabitha Beard said Tutor worked well
at the top of the lineup with Lauren Holifield. She said Tutor’s
ACCOMPLISHING speed was an integral ingredient to the Lady Trojans’ march to a
third consecutive slow-pitch state title, and 12th overall.
“She is just the type of player that when the game is on the

GOALS Atkins, Tutor


slug their teams to state titles
line and you need something to happen you want her to be
there,” Beard said. “She makes you smile, she makes you laugh,
and she is the type of player you wish you had 10 of her. It would
make your job a lot easier. She just has a way to calm the rest of
the team down and pick the rest of the team up.”
story and photos by ADAM MINICHINO Beard said Tutor and the Lady Trojans struggled at the start
EITHER ONE CAN TRULY BE LABELED A of the season. But things slowly came around for New Hope (22-

N
so much more for their teams.
7), which weathered the offensive doldrums, personnel changes,
“POWER HITTER.” But that term is so limiting and inexperience at several positions.
because Caitlyn Atkins and Haley Tutor can do Tutor did her best to pick up the slack for the departure of
seniors Victoria Culpepper, Kristen Harvey, and DeShuni
Sanders. She assumed a larger defensive role in the outfield and
The Class 5A and Class 2A Mississippi High School Activities showed she, too, could flash some leather with the best of them.
Association state titles New Hope and Hamilton high schools won Tutor hit .527 with 19 RBIs, predominantly from the leadoff
this season are the final reward for all of their hard work and spot in the lineup, and had an on-base percentage of .666.
everything they contributed to their squads on and off the field. “She is a leader on and off the field,” Beard said. “She has a way
For their accomplishments this season, Atkins and Tutor are The of getting the others to follow. When she was at the plate, you felt at
Commercial Dispatch Slow-pitch All-Area co-Players of the Year. ease because you knew something good was going to happen.” n

SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 53


SOCCER
ALL AREA
BOYS AND GIRLS

Strong defense
core principle for
Starkville’s Day
story by DAVID MILLER photo by KERRY SMITH
LREADY PART OF A

A STRONG SOPHOMORE
CLASS, Price Day earned
the captain’s arm band and made it
his mission to make the Starkville
High School boys soccer team the
best defensive team in the area.
And after Starkville High started the
season with more than 400 minutes of
shutout soccer Day, The Commercial
Dispatch’s Boys Soccer Player of the
Year for 2009-10, knew the Yellow
Jackets were in for a special season.
With a final record of 9-2-2, Starkville
beat Tupelo 1-0 at home for its first victo-
ry in the series in 10 years before falling
to Northwest Rankin 4-0 in the first
round of the Mississippi High School
Activities Association Class 6A playoffs.
But if there was one glaring differ-
ence between Starkville High’s team this
year and last year, it was the poise and
skill in its back line.
In particular, the middle of
the Yellow Jackets’ defense
— Day and J.R. Tomlinson
at center back
and Addison
Watson in
goal —
proved to

Athletic prodigy scores


be a
fortress.
What

Soccer Player of Year


made the
trio’s season
more unique is their
relationship away from
SHS soccer. All three
RTIE COSBY KNEW A LONG TIME AGO TIFFANY

A HUDDLESTON was going to be a standout in sports.

Cosby coached Huddleston in T-Ball to be able to throw or to catch very


play for the Central
Jackson Select team
and all three are sopho-
mores.
Outside of the five
when she was 5 or 6 and saw how well, Huddleston, the team’s first base- goals he scored this
advanced she was even at that age. man and only girl, had the best glove, season, Day said he is
While it’s common for many players not bat, and throwing arm. most proud of his
involvement in
story by ADAM MINICHINO photo by KELLY TIPPETT Starkville’s defensive
54 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 turnaround. n
Shoemaker: PK stopper every PK I stopped.”
When Shoemaker started
playing goalkeeper, she took les-
Shoemaker hailed the work
and cohesion of her backline,
which included sisters Christine
story by DAVID MILLER photo by KERRY SMITH sons with Steve Bush, who used and Alex Mazzola at center
to play in Germany. She had backs, Ida Knox at right back,
AEVONNE SHOEMAKER LIKES BEING AN

R
every angle of her game ana- and Jen Henderson at left back.
INDIVIDUAL AND STANDING OUT, so it makes lyzed, criticized, and refined to Shoemaker said Knox, a sen-
become Starkville’s first-choice ior, provided the extra vocal pres-
sense she plays goalkeeper. goalkeeper. ence to help keep everyone
The Starkville High junior Soccer Player of the Year is fur- Confident in her skills, aligned at the back.
started all of the Lady Jackets’ ther validated by her work in Shoemaker was relied on even Despite her solid season,
games this season and has been overtime. more this season as the Lady Shoemaker feels her leaping abili-
a fixture in Anna Albritton’s line- Shoemaker saved 8 of 13 over- Jackets struggled in front of goal. ty cost her a few goals this sea-
up for several years. It started time penalty kicks this season, Plus, the team experienced a son. Being quick to the ground is
when she was a seventh-grader and believes it became a heavy turnover. essential, but Shoemaker wants
and beat out two seniors and a strength of her game. “I felt like there was more to be able to get higher off the
junior to earn the starting job. “(Penalty kicks) happen pressure, just thinking the ground.
She gets a thrill knowing she’s all the time,” Shoemaker ball’s going to be on our “Just thinking back to Tupelo,
the last line of the defense and said. “You have to learn half more than usual,” the goal they scored from outside
relishes the rush of penalty kick how other Shoemaker said. “The the 18 went just over my hand
shootouts. players whole team had to and all I could think was, ‘Only if,’
A goalkeeper since she was play. shift, too, and be in ” Shoemaker said. “There’s a cou-
11, Shoemaker helped lead the You have a more defensive ple of times, even horizontally,
Lady Jackets to a 9-5 record and a to look into mode. But I play where I thought that. There was
berth in the Class 6A playoffs, their eyes because better when also a goal in the playoff game
where they lost to Madison their first glimpse is there’s more against Madison Central where
Central. usually where they’re pressure. A lot of the announcer said, ‘Beautiful
With an 84-percent save rate going. If not, you have good players play goal by so and so girl’ and,
and 60 percent of her starts to watch the ball. The a lot better when they ‘Valiant dive by Raevonne
resulting in clean sheets, second you see those have pressure. You Shoemaker.’ All I could think
Shoemaker’s selection as The hips turn, that’s where have to ready yourself about was how I couldn’t get
Commercial Dispatch’s Girls you go. I took pride in for that.” there.” n

Join One
“She was exhibiting some things when she was a little girl
that showed back then that she was special,” Cosby said. “It

YMCA
hasn’t surprised me that she has progressed as well as she
has.”
Huddleston also excelled on the basketball court for the

Use Them All!


Starkville Academy girls team. But earlier this year the fresh-
man forward/midfielder did her best to shine on the school’s
soccer team.
Huddleston led the team with 17 goals in another standout
season for a player whose skills belie her age.
For her accomplishments, Huddleston is The Commercial
Dispatch Fall Soccer Player of the Year.
“For a ninth-grader, she is very mature,” Cosby said. “She
knows the game very well and has a good presence out on
the field.”
Huddleston hones her soccer skills on a Select team that
exposes her to a higher level of competition than she sees in
high school. But Cosby said that experience hasn’t affected
Huddleston’s ability to work well with some high school
teammates whose soccer skills aren’t as advanced.
This season, Huddleston played center forward for the
Lady Volunteers. Cosby said Huddleston is a great midfielder
and that he probably didn’t utilize all of her skills this season.
The fact that Huddleston has a powerful shot might be one www.columbus-ymca.com
reason why she saw some much action up top. Downtown New Hope
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“The few times I played around in goal I did not want
Tiffany shoot at me,” Cosby said. “Even outside of the 18 she
is going to pop you really hard when she hits. She has a lot of Caledonia Wellness
356-9622 243-1162
attributes that you really don’t expect to see in a ninth-grader.
She plays like a much older player.” n
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 55
FOOTBALL
ALL AREA
LARGE SCHOOLS

Chris Chambless is The Commercial Dispatch


Large Schools Coach of the Year after leading
West Point to a state title.

WINNING D
ENNIS ALLEN HAD A DREAM
TO SELL. Problem was, not many
people, even friends, were willing
to come to West Point High

ATTITUDE School to help transform a football program


that had fallen on hard times.
So Allen thought back to a “He almost didn’t come,”
Coach of Year golf outing in Ackerman when
he met Chris Chambless. At the
Allen said of his first hire. “He
was one of the few I could talk
Chambless helps Green time, Chambless was in his first
season at Caledonia High, and
into coming to West Point.”
Years later, Allen can smile
Wave recapture was known for his prowess as a
defensive coach.
and look back on what he called
a “good hire.”
championship magic Allen approached Chambless
after West Point played
Chambless, too, can be
proud he has helped to build on
Caledonia in the spring and what Allen, who helped lead
asked if he would be interested West Point to a state title in
in joining his staff as defensive 2005, brought back to Clay
coordinator. He had to push County.
story and photo by ADAM MINICHINO hard to make the sell. Buoyed by a dominating

56 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010


Carr, Sanders displayed
ground game and a hard-charging
defense, Chambless’ Green Wave
rebounded from a season-opening loss
at Shannon to win their final 14 games.
A 35-14 victory against Wayne County

skills as playmakers
in the Mississippi High School
Activities Association Class 5A state
title game in Jackson capped a 14-1 sea-
son and helped the Green Wave cap-
ture their sixth football state title.
LAYMAKERS SHARE SO MANY THINGS.

P
For his efforts this season,
Chambless is The Commercial Dispatch
Large Schools Coach of the Year. Whether its speed, strength, endurance, or a
Allen, who is the athletic director at burning desire to be the best, their ability to
West Point, knew Chambless was the
man to replace him after he stepped change a game with one touch of the football makes
down following the 2005 season.
“Chris hasn’t expected any less from them special.
our kids than I did,” Allen said. “There
was no bump in the road. It was just Michael Carr and Vincent Sanders Carr caught a 64-yard touchdown pass
step on, here we go, we’re going to share all of those traits and more. from Justin Cox in the first quarter. He
keep building and working and eventu- The West Point and Noxubee County added a 78-yard kick return for a touch-
ally, at a school like West Point, espe- high school seniors also bring a confi- down to open the second half. The sec-
cially with a good administration and dence to the field that allows them to ond score was the first of 21 unanswered
the support we have, we’re going to get deliver game-changing plays on offense points in the second half that helped push
to a state championship game because or defense. the Green Wave to their first state title
we do have talent here.” For Carr, the majority of his differ- since 2005, and the program’s sixth
Chambless spent one year at former ence-making efforts came on offense as overall.
part of West Point’s run to the Sanders suffered a fractured jaw in
Sturgis High School as an assistant
Mississippi High School Activities Noxubee County’s season-opening victo-
coach and one year at Caledonia High
Association Class 5A state title. ry against Starkville on Aug. 21. He
as head coach in 1998 before joining
For Sanders, an injury in the season missed five games and didn’t return until
Allen’s staff in 1999. He said he knew
opener against Starkville the Tigers’ game Oct. 2 at
Allen was a good leader and that he
only delayed his ability to Kosciusko.
had had success as an assistant coach
impact offenses and Still, Sanders had more
at Starkville High and that West Point
defenses for the Tigers, than 40 catches for more
had a solid administration. All of those
who advanced to the Class than 600 yards (more than
factors, plus the fact he knew the kind
4A North Half semifinals. 1,700 total yards). On
of players West Point had, led him
For their accomplish- defense, he had two inter-
accept Allen’s offer. ments this season, Carr ceptions at free safety. His
Head coach and defensive coordina- and Sanders are The presence on the field typi-
tor had plenty of “good times” compet- Carr Sanders
Commercial Dispatch cally caused teams to
ing against each other at practice. But Large Schools Offensive and Defensive throw away from him, or not to throw at
their battles had a serious side: Their Players of the Year. all.
goal was to rebuild a program that had “Michael without being cocky and Noxubee County coach M.C. Miller
won four state titles under Bubba being humble has more confidence than said Sanders handled his injury well. He
Davis. anybody I have ever coached,” West said the Tigers played well without their
Chambless said Allen set the tone Point High football coach Chris senior leader, but he said there is no
and that he learned a lot from the man Chambless said. “You know if you put it telling what kind of season the team
he replaced. Through the ups and in his hands he has the confidence to could have had if it would have had
downs of the 2009 season, Chambless make it happen.” Sanders healthy all year.
remained stoic on the sidelines, trying Carr was the primary receiving threat “The time he was out there he had a
to show his players the focus they on a Green Wave team that dominated good year,” Miller said. “On offense he
needed. In practice, Chambless was the opponents with a rushing attack that was our game-breaker. We knew as long
same fiery leader he was as an assis- piled up 4,037 yards in 15 games. He led as we had Vincent healthy we could
tant, but his game face epitomized the the team with 38 catches for 834 yards score at any time. When you have a
Green Wave’s business-like approach. and eight touchdowns. He also had four game-breaker at any time you tend not to
“A wise man told me a long time rushing scores and three more by return. worry. He also was a game-stopper
ago, ‘You are what you see, and you The Mississippi State commitment because teams were not going to throw
become what you follow,’ ” Chambless showcased his versatility in West Point’s anything deep on us. He was just a key
said. “I want to be the type of leader 35-14 victory against Wayne County in player all around for us and on special
who never panics and who does things the state title game on Dec. 5 in Jackson. teams and on kickoffs.” n
the right way and doesn’t go crazy. I try
not to go nuts. I have gone nuts behind story by ADAM MINICHINO
closed doors, and I try not to do it in
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 57
THE DISPATCH
public, and especially not in front of the
kids.”
Chambless said he learned that mind-
set from Allen, his bosses at West Point
High, and his father, a businessman, who
always has been like that.
ALL-AREA TEAM
“You can’t blow up and go crazy and LARGE SCHOOLS
expect you kids to perform,” Chambless
said. “There are a lot better ways to moti- OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: West Point; Chadz Taylor, Noxubee County
Michael Carr, West Point Utility — Matthew Lewis, West Point;
vate than blowing up. I would head butt DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Corey Williams, Noxubee County
that wall if it would help them play harder, Vincent Sanders, Noxubee County P — Zak Thrasher, New Hope
but I don’t think it does.” COACH OF THE YEAR:
Grisham has seen Chambless work that
way since he arrived in West Point in 2000.
Chris Chambless, West Point
SECOND TEAM
Hired as the offensive line coach, Grisham
moved to offensive coordinator and has
FIRST TEAM Offense
QB — Jaquez Johnson, Starkville
Offense RB — Xavier Hogan, West Point; Earnest
been devising bruising running schemes
QB — Justin Cox, West Point Harmon, Noxubee County
with Chambless’ blessing ever since. RB — Lakenderic Thomas, West Point, WR — Terrance Baron, Noxubee County;
“He does a good job of staying even Terrance Dentry, New Hope Johnny Beamon, New Hope
keel most of the time,” Grisham said. “He WR — Markese Triplett, Louisville; Chuck OL — Seth White, West Point; Lamont
cares about the kids. He always has their Tillery, Starkville Randle, West Point; Ladarius Taylor, West
interest out there. He tries to make every- OL — Ryan Hollivay, New Hope; Lee Point; Rocky Knox, Columbus; Jarrod
body happy. He is looking out for the play- Crowley, West Point; Tate Rogers, Atterberry, Starkville
ers and his assistants, and it just trickles Louisville; Gussie Lane, Noxubee County; TE — Martavious Foster, Starkville
down from there.” Desmond Boyd, West Point Utility — Ryan Idom, Louisville; C.J. Bates,
TE — Michael Bush, West Point Louisville
Grisham said he has seen just about
Utility — Patreon Hopkins, Noxubee K — Cody Berryhill, Starkville
every side of Chambless in their time County; Damian Baker, Columbus
together. He said Chambless is so effec- K — Tanner Ryals, New Hope Defense
tive as a head coach because he allows his
DL — Ladarius Hunt, Noxubee County;
assistant coaches to do their jobs and Defense Chris Wolf, Columbus; Tommy Keys, West
doesn’t second-guess them. He said DL — Curtis Virges, West Point; Nelson Point; Damon Triplett, Louisville
Chambless really hasn’t changed any Bolden, Noxubee County; Seth Stillman, LB — Jamie Sanders, Louisville; Kris
since he took over for Allen. New Hope; Vontarrius Dora, West Point; Douglas, New Hope; Toddrick Tate,
“It is just like when Dennis let him Richard Christopher, Heritage Academy Noxubee County
coach the defense,” Grisham said. “He LB — Chris Jackson, Columbus, Jontae DB — Byerson Cockrell, Columbus, Blake
lets me do the offense. He doesn’t bother Skinner, Noxubee County; Craig Armstead, Cunningham, Louisville; Billy Shed,
me like Dennis bothered him. He trusts Starkville Starkville; Jaquille White, West Point
DB — Franklin Richardson Jr., New Hope; Utility — Raymond Walters, New Hope;
you, so it puts pressure on you to drive Jeremy Wells, New Hope; Gary Hughes, Justin Rogers, Starkville
yourself and to get it right.” P — Wesley Montgomery, Starkville
Grisham was poking fun at Allen, but
his sentiment is true.
Chambless said all of the West Point HONORABLE MENTION
Amory — Channing French, Nathan
coaches push themselves because they
Kendrick, Forest Williams
understand the program has a high bar to Caledonia — Brandon Bell, Cole Carter,
meet every season. He said his job is to Tyler Knight, Jonathan Thinizee
do what he can to keep everything togeth- Columbus — Tim Hudgins, Cedric Jackson,
er and to support the coaches and the Drew Jordan, Ryan McDonald, Martin
players every way possible. Sherrod, Zach Thomas, Ian Williams
Allen sees the same Chambless today Heritage Academy — Hunter Brown, Matt
he saw in 1999. He said Chambless never Dickey, Stance Henderson, Chris Uhl
shied away from doing anything that Louisville — Rod Clark, Cottrell Miller
New Hope — Lawrence Brown, Marquise
helped free him up to do other things. He
Coleman, Anthony Nelson, Jo Jo Reeves,
said Chambless’ hard-working nature sets Curtis Shirley, Ahmad Williams
the tone for the Green Wave. Noxubee County — Tony Glenn, Jacoby
“I think he does it sort of like all good Harris, Keshun Smith, Fredeas Tate
coaches try to do it. It is like a family Starkville — Bennie Henderson, Bryce
atmosphere,” Allen said. “We go off and Henderson, Tevin Hodges, Blake Johnson,
do things together. We hang out together. D.J. Jordan, Adonnis Scales, Dennis
He will have the kids over his house to Thompson
create that family atmosphere and get Starkville Academy — Kyle Henson, Jake
Reed
them to bond together. It helps if you’re
West Point — Justin Bobo, Jeremy
more like a family than an individual and Stan Beall Cannon, Jacoby Lee, Deismon Robinson,
you treat it like a job and you’re going to
work.” n
Michael Carr (8) breaks up a pass Kwame Williams

58 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010


FOOTBALL
ALL AREA
SMALL SCHOOLS

‘A GOOD
EXPERIENCE’
Aberdeen head coach’s
balancing act pays off
story by DANNY P. SMITH photos by KELLY TIPPETT

HRIS DUNCAN HAD TO

C ENDURE A FULL SCHEDULE


FRIDAYS during football season.
Splitting time as a coach
and minister, Duncan would
study for his radio show or
Sunday service.
leave home in Calhoun County Duncan calls managing it
as early as 4:30 or 5 a.m. to all “a good experience.” He
deliver a tape of his radio show relies on his faith to keep him
to the station, before going to going.
Aberdeen High School. “The Lord will give you Aberdeen High school football coach Chris Duncan
His day didn’t end when strength to do what you need
school was out because he had to do,” Duncan said.
to coach the Bulldogs in a foot- Time spent with coaching
ball game that night.
If that didn’t already make
and ministry has taken away
from his family. He values fam-
COLUMBUS
for a long weekend, Duncan, ily, but stresses it doesn’t
the pastor at Reedy’s Chapel always mean blood relatives.
Baptist Church in Derma near “I do think over the past
Calhoun City, had to prepare several years I’ve been doing DEPARTMENT
for Sunday services. so much that I’ve missed some
Duncan showed he could
balance all of those responsi-
family time, which is important
to me, but the football players
Congratulations
bilities and put a good product and everything connected with
on the field this season as it is part of my family also,” to all our area
Aberdeen High finished 13-3 Duncan said. “This is a group
and won the Class 3A North of seniors (at Aberdeen) that athletes for doing
State championship. have grown real close over the
For the Bulldogs’ accom- past three years and been their best this year!
plishments this season, through a lot together. I’d like
Duncan is The Commercial to think they’ve helped me and
Dispatch Small Schools Coach I’ve also helped them.”
of Year. Duncan has been at
Duncan said handling his Aberdeen High four years and
“to-do list” was a matter of “pri- has coached football the past
oritizing the things that are the three.
most important, try to do Before Duncan became
those, then try to squeeze coach, the Bulldogs had only
other things in if you have won once in two years (1-9 in
time.” 2005, 0-10 in 2006). In
There were many late Duncan’s first season in 2007,
hours for Duncan. He often Aberdeen finished 9-4,
would come home after a long improved to 11-3 the next sea-
day of football practice and son and 13-3 this season to
1501 Main Street • 662-244-3523
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 59
reach the Class 3A state championship
game.
“Each year, we’ve been able to take one
more step,” Duncan said. “It’s very hard to
get to Jackson in football. It’s not like bas-
ketball where you have eight to 10 teams
down there (for the state tournament).
“I think the bar has been raised in
Aberdeen from being the laughing stock in
football to being a contender every year.
Usually, we’ve been setting goals the last
several years, but I don’t think I’ll have to
set them anymore because I think anything
less than getting to Jackson now would be a
disappointment to the players. It shows
how far this program has come in three
years.”
Coaching means more to Duncan than
just winning games. He likes seeing his
players, like Jamerson Love, rewarded for
hard work.
That’s the main reason Duncan hated to
see Aberdeen fall in the state title game to
Tylertown 34-20.
Poe persevered After rocky start
“I can handle losing games pretty good,
but to see my kids hurt was the worst part
about it,” Duncan said.
to become top Love thrived in
Love could sense how much Duncan
cared for him and said he wouldn’t have
been able to stay on the right path if it had-
defensive player Aberdeen offense
n’t been for his guidance. OSH POE HAD AMERSON LOVE’S
“Coach Duncan really helped me stay
out of trouble in some ways,” Love said.
“When he first came, I know he meant
business. If you didn’t abide by his rules,
you wouldn’t be playing football.”
Despite losing the final game, Duncan
was proud of the players’ effort.
J SOMETHING TO
PROVE at West
Oktibbeha High School.
At 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, Poe knew
he wasn’t going to have anything
J ABILITY TO FIGHT
THROUGH ADVERSITY
has paid dividends.
After getting off to a difficult start
at Aberdeen High School three years
He called being able to endure 22 weeks ago, Love found the right way to go
given to him and was going to have to
of football and make it all of the way to the and went from occasional trouble-
earn his spot as linebacker.
state championship game “a testament” to maker to a go-to player for coach
West Oktibbeha High coach Adam
the players. Chris Duncan and the Bulldogs.
Lowrey was reluctant at first to give
“The season is very long and very gruel- For his accomplishments this sea-
Poe the chance, but once he saw him
ing,” Duncan said. “We had about nine in action, the reservations vanished. son, Love, who helped Aberdeen to
weeks of rain and mud this year, so we had “Once I knew he could maneuver the Class 3A North State champi-
to practice in rain and mud. For all the with all the big linemen coming at onship, is The Commercial Dispatch
coaches and players, it was a very trying him, I wasn’t worried about it,” Small Schools Offensive Player of the
year with the conditions outside. I think I Lowrey said. “My defensive linemen Year. He thanked God for the opportu-
ruined about three or four pairs of shoes. It were a necessity. Then we started tak- nity to be player of the year and said
was overall a good year and one they ing guys who had enough grit and improving his leg strength enabled
should remember the rest of their life. I heart about them (and put them at him to play offense and defense.
played 10 years of football and four years of linebacker). Once we got the defen- Before he could improve on the
college ball and never got to play in the sive line right, it made (Poe’s) and the field, Love knew he had to make a
championship game. I feel very fortunate to other linebackers’ job a lot easier.” mental transition.
make it there.” Poe thrived in his junior season “I just found a way to straighten
Duncan still can’t help to feel there’s with the Timberwolves, finishing with out and look at me now,” Love said.
some unfinished business and, as any min- 106 tackles (73 solo), six sacks, and 11 “I’m on the right track.”
ister would, used a passage of scripture to forced fumbles. Duncan said he was fortunate to
keep things in perspective. For his accomplishments, Poe is watch Love mature.
“We don’t feel like we completed our The Commercial Dispatch Small “Jamerson is one of those kids who
task, but you can find in Romans 8:28 Schools Defensive Player of the Year. grew over the three years and got bet-
where it says everything happens for a rea- Poe knew playing football was ter,” Duncan said. “He was already
son,” Duncan said. “You just have to take going to be part of his future.
that, go on, and try it another year.” n In the eighth grade, he recalled stories by DANNY P. SMITH
60 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
Poe continued THE DISPATCH
intercepting his first pass and scoring his
first touchdown. Each year, his play
improved, which helped him make more
ALL-AREA TEAM
tackles. SMALL SCHOOLS
Poe was determined to show Lowrey Coach of the Year: Brandon Hill, West Lowndes
he could be a good linebacker. Chris Duncan, Aberdeen J.D. Edwards, Hebron Christian
Offensive Player of the Year: Tight End
“It was the first game of the season and Jamerson Love, Aberdeen
he saw the hitting I did and that I was able Defensive Player of the Year: Justin James, Immanuel Christian
Josh Poe, West Oktibbeha
to run from sideline to sideline if I have
to,” Poe said. “When I showed him, I
OFFENSE DEFENSE
First Team
guess he was shocked I did it.”
First Team Cornerback
The forced fumbles were enough to let Quarterback Jamerson Love, Aberdeen
Lowrey know he’d made a good decision Aaron Andrews, Aberdeen Miquel Graham, East Webster
on where to play Poe. Running Back Safety
Lowrey calls Poe “a boy with heart,” Jamerson Love, Aberdeen
J.D. Edwards, Hebron Christian
Daylan Hairson, Victory Christian
and said even as a junior, he had a pres- Wide Receiver Arthur Gillespie, East Oktibbeha
ence on the field. Erik Buchanan, Aberdeen Utility
Poe is modest when it comes to compli- Rashad Pargo, Aberdeen Jake Orman, Oak Hill Academy
Utility Drake Powell, West Oktibbeha
ments and being chosen defensive player Linebacker
Marlon Fair, East Oktibbeha
of the year. He questioned his traits as a Victor Hodges, Aberdeen Josh Poe, West Oktibbeha
leader, but as the season progressed, Tight End Brandon Hill, West Lowndes
Lowrey said his team had a hard time stay- L.J. Jefferson, East Oktibbeha David Pryor, Oak Hill Academy
Offensive Lineman Defensive Lineman
ing focused without Poe the field. John Austin Buckner, East Webster
“He was talking whether he thought he Freddie Williams, East Oktibbeha
David Matusiak, Oak Hill Academy
Channing Ward, Aberdeen
was a leader or not, but he would always do Mark Vaughan, Hebron Christian
Fred Ward, Aberdeen
his job,” Lowrey said. “I never have to tell Lee Roberts, East Oktibbeha
him twice because he’s going to do it.” n
Matt Arnett, Winston Academy Will Lummus, Oak Hill Academy
Kicker Punter
Reid Posey, Oak Hill Academy Dustin White, Immanuel Christian

Love continued Second Team


Quarterback
Second Team
Cornerback
Parker Eaves, Victory Christian James Finley, East Oktibbeha
good physically, but mentally and charac- Running Back Dwight Quinn, West Oktibbeha
ter-wise he grew and became, not just a Doss Miller, Oak Hill Academy Safety
Demetrius O'Briant, East Webster Terrance Rice, East Oktibbeha
good football player, but a good young Wide Receiver
man.” Dwight Quinn, West Oktibbeha Jake Flanigan, Oak Hill Academy
Duncan admitted there were some Kevin McCartney, Hamilton Utility
Utility Bracey Johnson, East Oktibbeha
discipline problems when he arrived at Michael Tate, Immanuel Christian
Marques Robinson, Hebron Christian
Aberdeen and that Love had a hard Terrance Rice, East Oktibbeha Linebacker
time adjusting coming out of the ninth Tight End Sedric Quinn, Aberdeen
grade. He watched as Love overcame Will Lummus, Oak Hill Academy Daylan Hairston, Victory Christian
that adversity and grew into a team Offensive Lineman Xavier Moye, East Webster
Eddie Tucker, West Lowndes Defensive Lineman
leader. Jalen Peterson, East Oktibbeha
“He came out on the other side, took Lilton Vance, East Webster
Jeremy Davidson, Immanuel Christian Monte Horsley, East Oktibbeha
the high road, and now you see the Reid Posey, Oak Hill Academy
Jeremy Brown, West Oktibbeha Anthony White, West Oktibbeha
results,” Duncan said. “He’s going to Tiberias Lampkin, West Oktibbeha
Mississippi State.” Kicker
Tamarkis Bell, East Webster Punter
Love committed to MSU as a defensive Chris Hunter, East Oktibbeha
back, but proved he was just as valuable to Honorable Mention
Aberdeen High on offense. He had 208 Quarterback Honorable Mention
carries for 1,923 yards and 22 touchdowns Von Smith, West Oktibbeha Linebacker
Davis Clay, Oak Hill Academy Ledrick Patterson, East Webster
as a senior running back. Running Back Cole Johnson, Hamilton
Duncan said Love will be able to help Michael Tate, Immanuel Christian Cameron Ellis, Oak Hill Academy
MSU on either side of the football. Lexie Edwards, East Oktibbeha Quadaris Thompson, West Oktibbeha
“When he touched the ball for us, we Running Back
Latedrick Troupe, Hamilton Jeremy Brown, West Oktibbeha
knew something good could happen any- Trent Jefferson, East Oktibbeha Darico Dancer, East Oktibbeha
time,” Duncan said. “We liked to get the Wide Receiver Defensive Lineman
ball to him any way we could. He was for- Sam Rice, Oak Hill Academy J.R. Wilbourne, Oak Hill Academy
tunate to be on a team with a lot of good Aaron Brownlee, West Oktibbeha Barry White, Oak Hill Academy
players so (opponents) couldn’t just key Utility James Wriley, Immanuel Christian
on him.” n
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 61
FOOTBALL
ALL AREA
WEST ALABAMA

Deion Curry, left, Scott Marchant, and


Michael Bradford head The Commercial
Dispatch West Alabama team.

A YEAR TO REMEMBER
Lamar, Pickens I T WAS A YEAR TO REMEMBER FOR THE LAMAR COUNTY AND
PICKENS COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAMS.
recognized Both teams made runs for a state title County (12-2) only lost to
and came up a game shy of playing each Gordo and Reeltown.
for season other in the Alabama High School For their accomplish-
ments this season, Adams
Athletic Association Class 2A state cham-
of achievement pionship game.
Lamar County tied a school record for
and Marchant are The
Commercial Dispatch West
Alabama co-Coaches of the
most wins in a season in Ken Adams’ Year.
story by HENRY MATUSZAK third season as coach. Pickens County Adams Adams said the
made the state semifinals in Scott Bulldogs couldn’t have enjoyed the sea-
photo by SARAH WILSON Marchant’s first year as a head coach. son they had without assistant coaches
Lamar County (13-1) was undefeated Tim Bobbitt, Steve Brock, David Easley,
until losing to Clay County, while Pickens Justin Lann, Heath Pennington, John
62 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
Curry thrives David Rogers, and Don Thornton.
“No. 1, it’s a great honor,” Adams said of
earning coach of the year honors. “But
coach of the year should be coaches
Adams played football at Itawamba
AHS in Fulton and was aware of
McKinney’s success at Lamar County.
There was part of Adams that wanted to

on defense because of the effort all the coaches put in


to get these kids to play each week. It’s a
great honor to win it from the standpoint
that it means your program has come full
return Lamar County to its glory days
under McKinney when he took over the
program in 2007.
“I got to meet him since and he’s always

for Pickens circle. We’ve all been together for three


years. The coaches know what to expect
and the players know what to expect. It’s
continuity in a program.”
been supportive of us” Adams said of
McKinney. “I know he helps (his son)
David (McKinney) at Gordo, but every
story by HENRY MATUSZAK time I’ve seen coach McKinney he’s been
Marchant feels as strongly about nothing but helpful and the things he’s said
OING INTO THIS PAST Pickens County assistant coaches Barry to me and about the community have been

G HIGH SCHOOL FOOT-


BALL SEASON, Pickens
County coach Scott Marchant
Ambrose, Eddie Lee Doss, Jerome Giles,
Malcolm Giles, Tavoris Lacey, Chris
McCrary, Lee Smith, John Stepp, and the
others who aided the Tornadoes in their
bid for a state championship.
nothing but positive.”
Pickens County was in contention for an
undefeated season until it lost to Gordo in
its regular-season finale.
The Tornadoes began the season by
asked junior Deion Curry to play “We had a great year and I feel really beating Greensboro 48-24, Shades
a demanding position on defense. blessed,” Marchant said. “We had a bunch Mountain Christian 67-7, Thorsby 33-14,
Marchant wanted to use Curry at of good kids and good football players to Hale County 34-6, Aliceville 13-0, Isabella
linebacker and safety so he could coach. I was blessed with a lot of good 52-6, American Christian 26-0, Vincent 34-6,
coaches who helped me. I had a lot of good and Fultondale 14-9.
exploit Curry’s quickness and nose for
people here at the school who helped me. In the playoffs rolled, the Tornadoes
the football.
We have a good administration.” beat Keith 57-24, Goshen 48-14, and three-
Curry responded and contributed
Under Adams’ guidance, Lamar County time defending state champion Leroy 19-12
to a stingy defense that helped Pickens
beat South Lamar 61-20, Cold Springs 47- before losing to Reeltown.
County (12-2) make it to the semifinals
12, Cleveland 48-30, Sulligent 21-20, R.C. “He got a lot out of us,” Pickens County
of the Alabama High School Athletic
Hatch 46-12, Falkville 43-0, Addison 21-14, junior quarterback and safety Deion Curry
Association Class 2A playoffs.
Oakman 58-13, Winston County 21-0, and
“He played a position that demands said. “We didn’t make it to our goal (of win-
Isabella 48-0 during the regular season,
a lot coverage wise and also demands ning a state championship), but we accom-
and Red Bay 42-0, Tanner 28-27 in over-
a lot run support wise,” Marchant plished a lot this year.”
time, and Ider 35-13 in the playoffs.
said. “Basically he was a safety and Pickens County was strong on both
The Bulldogs were strong on both sides
linebacker at the same time. It’s a sides of the ball, averaging 37.2 points and
of the ball, averaging 37.8 points and allow-
demanding position. Not everybody allowing 12.1 points per game.
ing 14.2 points per game.
can do it and he did a fine job with it Marchant didn’t know what to expect
Adams would prefer to pass the credit
this year.” his first season as a head coach, but he was
on to the assistant coaches, but Lamar
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Curry con- confident the Tornadoes had the talent to
County quarterback Michael Bradford said
tributed to a defense that allowed only have a successful season.
Adams deserves a lot of the credit.
170 points in 14 games. He led the “I’m a little disappointed we didn’t make
“He did a great job,” Bradford said.
Tornadoes with 136 tackles and he the championship game,” Marchant said.
“He’s been with us for three years and
intercepted three passes. He returned “I’m disappointed for our kids and our com-
each year he comes in he works harder
one interception for a touchdown. munity, but overall I just feel very blessed.
and coaches harder and gets everybody
For his role in helping Pickens I know there are a lot of coaches that have
ready to play.
County make it to the state semifinals, “He kept us focused. He made sure we been coaching for a long time and haven’t
Curry is The Commercial Dispatch played with the same intensity every gotten to the semifinal round of the play-
West Alabama Defensive Player of the Friday night when we stepped on the field, offs, so I just feel real blessed to be part of
Year. and he always made sure we practiced a great football team and a bunch of great
“He just made big plays,” Marchant hard every day.” kids and a good community that supports
said. “He had a knack for being in the Lamar County tied the school record for football the way folks in Reform do.”
right place at the right time. wins in a season established in 1984 and Marchant was the defensive coordinator
“He was always around the football. equaled in 1992. for seven years at Pickens County before
He’s not the biggest guy in the world Through Adams’ effort, Lamar County taking over for Patrick Plott this season.
and he’s not the fastest guy in the enjoyed its most successful season since Under Marchant’s direction, Pickens
world, but he’s got a real good nose for Kenneth McKinney was the head coach. County advanced to the fourth round of
the football.” McKinney coached the Bulldogs to a state the state playoffs for the first time since
Curry wanted to do his part in championship in 1984 and runner-up finish 2001 when John Montgomery was the
keeping the opposition out of the end in 1992. head coach.
zone. “A lot of people can think back to the “No doubt he’s a great coach,” Curry
The Tornadoes shut out Aliceville ’80s and coach McKinney,” Adams said. “If said. “He’s good enough to coach a state
13-0 and American Christian Academy they look at it, we’re running the same championship team, and we’re going to try
26-0, and allowed a touchdown or less to make that happen next year.” n
in four other games. n
stuff he ran. We didn’t re-invent anything.”

SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 63


Bradford THE DISPATCH
ALL-AREA TEAM
was leader Co-coaches of the Year:
Ken Adams, Lamar County;
WEST ALABAMA
Kicker
First Team –– Brandon Merchant, Lamar

for Bulldogs Scott Marchant, Pickens County County


Offensive Player of Year:
Michael Bradford, Lamar County
Defensive Player of Year:
DEFENSE
Defensive Lineman
Deion Curry, Pickens County First Team –– Mark Sterling, Pickens County
story by HENRY MATUSZAK Second Team –– Erik Wilder, Aliceville

Michael Bradford’s goal was to be a


OFFENSE
Quarterback
Honorable Mention –– Cole Bradford, Lamar
County
Defensive Lineman
leader on the offensive side of the ball First Team –– Jacob Acker, Pickens Academy First Team –– Carson Chiquitto, Lamar County
for the Lamar County High School Second Team –– Deion Curry, Pickens County Second Team –– Judson Smith, Pickens
Running Back
football team. First Team –– Steven Stewart. Sulligent
Academy
The senior quarterback emerged as Honorable Mention –– Matt Hankins, Sulligent
Second Team –– Kenneth Hill, Lamar County Defensive Lineman
that leader and led Lamar County to a Honorable Mention –– James Adams, Pickens First Team –– Derrick Billups, Aliceville
season to remember. County
Second Team –– Tony Easterwood, Pickens
With Bradford leading the way, Running Back
County
First Team –– Ken Mitchell, South Lamar
Lamar County equalled a school Second Team –– Marquis Mayhew, Aliceville
Defensive Lineman
record for the most wins in a season First Team –– Brandon Merchant, Lamar
Wide Receiver
County
with 13 and made it to the semifinals First Team –– Dominique Jones, Pickens
Second Team –– Ahmad Walker, Sulligent
of the Alabama High School Athletic County
Linebacker
Second Team –– Demetrius Wilder, Aliceville
Association Class 2A playoffs. First Team –– Lance Bobbitt, Lamar County
Honorable Mention –– Josh Elliott, South
“We had a great year,” Bradford Lamar
Second Team –– Wesley Parson, Sulligent
said. “Everybody played hard and Honorable Mention –– Justin Sanford, South
Wide Receiver
Lamar
practiced hard week in and week out. First Team –– Logan Helms, Sulligent
Linebacker
We all just wanted to go out and play Second Team –– Tyler Vails, Pickens Academy
Honorable Mention –– Demetrius Wilder, First Team –– Matt Cruse, Sulligent
our best every week.” Aliceville Second Team –– Lemetrius Williams, Lamar
For leading Lamar County to within Tight End County
a game of playing for a state champi- First Team –– Michael Potts, Pickens Academy Linebacker
Second Team –– Dakota Carruth, Sulligent First Team –– Jimmy Lann, Lamar County
onship, Bradford is The Commercial Second Team –– Chase Davidson, Pickens
Utility
Dispatch West Alabama Offensive Academy
First Team –– Keith Hall, Pickens County
Player of the Year. Second Team –– DeShawn Davis, South Lamar Linebacker
The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Bradford Utility First Team –– Lawrence Scott, Aliceville
directed a high-powered offense that First Team –– Kirk Lewis, Pickens Academy Second Team –– Justin Perkins, Lamar County
Second Team –– Taavius Parker, Aliceville Defensive Back
scored 529 points in 14 games for an First Team –– Eric Hudson, Lamar County
Offensive Lineman
average of 37.8 points per game. First Team –– Reed Eaves, Lamar County Second Team –– Cody Smith, Sulligent
He completed 47 of 91 passes for Second Team –– Brad Lowery, Pickens Honorable Mention –– Jamal Giles, Pickens
626 yards and 11 touchdowns on a Academy County
Honorable Mention –– Demarcus Hall, Defensive Back
run-oriented team and was the
Aliceville First Team –– Robert White, Sulligent
Bulldogs’ leading rusher with 1,014 Second Team –– Jarvis Jones, Aliceville
Offensive Lineman
yards and 19 touchdowns. First Team –– Grey Hankins, Pickens Academy Honorable Mention –– Marquis Colvin,
He was intercepted just three times Second Team –– Durand Prince, Aliceville Aliceville
and two of the picks were in one Honorable Mention –– Andrew House, Pickens Defensive Back
Academy First Team –– Will Franks, Lamar County
game. Second Team –– Casey Jones, Pickens
Offensive Lineman
Bradford was a dangerous threat First Team –– Tony Johnson, Sulligent Academy
running and throwing the ball, but his Second Team –– Ishmael Riggins, Sulligent Honorable Mention –– John Morgan Owens,
ability to run the offense is what made Honorable Mention –– Dustan Reeves, Pickens Academy
the Bulldogs click. Sulligent Utility
Offensive Lineman First Team –– Quinton Sturdivant, Pickens
“The thing Michael understood was County
First Team –– Cory Jones, South Lamar
he allowed the offense to run through Second Team –– Jesse Turner, Pickens County Second Team –– Malcolm Willingham, South
him,” Lamar County coach Ken Adams Honorable Mention –– Tyler Sprouse, Lamar Lamar
said. “He wasn’t the offense. He was County Utility
able to see things and wasn’t just Offensive Lineman First Team –– Terry Mayhew, Aliceville
First Team –– Greg Jones, Pickens County Second Team –– Maurice Gary, Pickens
someone who got back there and tried Second Team –– Tremaine Willingham, South County
to do it all himself. He allowed the Lamar Punter
offense to run through him. Honorable Mention –– Brett Trull, Pickens First Team –– Marquis Plant, Pickens County
“He was able to carry out fakes, put Academy Second Team –– Brad McCool, South Lamar

64 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010


“The thing Michael understood was he allowed the offense to run through him.
He wasn’t the offense. He was able to see things and wasn’t just someone who got back
there and tried to do it all himself. ”
Lamar County coach Ken Adams

kids into motion, get our offense lined Isabella and a 159 yards and three Bulldogs. He was the starting quarter-
up and get the ball snapped. He did a touchdowns against Tanner. back for two years and guided the
great job of that.” He led an offense that scored 61 team to 23 wins and three losses dur-
Bradford threw three touchdown points against South Lamar, 47 against ing that time.
passes against Red Bay in the playoffs Cold Springs, 48 against Cleveland, 46 He was Barnes’ backup as a sopho-
and two touchdown passes against against R.C. Hatch, 43 against more on a 2-8 team and then took over
South Lamar in the season opener and Falkville, 58 against Oakman, 48 to lead a resurgence at Lamar County.
Addison in the seventh game. against Isabella and 42 against Red “Mike is one of those guys that is
The most yards he passed for in a Bay.
there every day,” Adams said. “He
game was 104 against South Lamar. “I wanted to give the guys every-
He was more effective running the thing that I had,” Bradford said. “I learned a lot my first year (at Lamar
ball, rushing for 110 yards and three wanted to play hard and get them to County in 2007) because he was watch-
touchdowns against Cleveland, 109 play hard, and keep everybody up by ing Brad Barnes by being behind him.”
yards and a touchdown against being a leader.” Bradford took what he learned from
Addison, 147 yards and two touch- Bradford proved to be a dependable Barnes and helped Lamar County
downs against Winston County, 127 starter after replacing Brad Barnes, become a state championship con-
yards and two touchdowns against who was a four-year starter for the tender.n

Congratulations On A Great Year!


www.trianglefcu.com

MAIN OFFICE-CAFB STARKVILLE MSU COLUMBUS CENTRE


P.O. Box 8300 1101 Highway 182 East 2330 Highway 45 North
Columbus, MS 39705 Starkville, MS 39759 Columbus, MS 39705
(662) 434-6052 (662) 338-9131 (662) 327-9450
FAX (662) 434-8406 FAX (662) 384-1240 FAX (662) 327-6308

SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 65


BASKETBALL
ALL AREA
LARGE SCHOOLS

Starkville High School basketball team celebrates after


winning the Class 6A state title.

PERKINS CARRIED TORCH FOR SHS


F THERE WAS A MORE DOMINANT, EXCITING, AND PIVOTAL PLAYER than Starkville

I High’s Rashad Perkins in The Commercial Dispatch coverage area, it might be his alley-oop
launcher Edward Townsel.
What put Perkins over the top in The the team’s explosive point guard, provided Perkins getting into foul trouble or having
Dispatch’s voting process was his perform- a canvas to paint a memorable state title an off game.
ance in the Class 6A state semifinals and performance piece. Perkins scored 20 points or more in 27
final, where he averaged 23 points and 14 Still, as a 23-point, 15-rebound per game of 33 games this season, capping a career
rebounds. player this season, Perkins powered the that started with dunks and a freshman sea-
He set the tone with a Herculean effort Yellow Jackets and earned him The son of ineligibility with a state champi-
of 25 points, 14 rebounds, 13 blocked shots, Dispatch’s Large Schools Boys Player of the onship, recognition as the state’s Mr.
and five steals against Biloxi. The future Year honors. Basketball, and numerous All-Area and All-
Southern Miss Eagle didn’t suffer any lag Perkins’ athletic ability has never been State honors.
against Rodney Hood and Meridian. questioned, as the 6-foot-5 leaper eliminated The ride has been spectacular, Perkins
Perkins rebuffed questions of carrying taller players’ advantages by living above said, but as easy as it has looked to fans
the torch after snapping Starkville’s 49-year the rim. Rebounds, putbacks, and alley- Perkins had to discipline himself on the
title drought, insisting the chemistry, depth, oops belonged to Perkins and often left court.
and leadership between him and Townsel, opposing teams with the only hope of “I’ve got ability and potential and I’m a

story by DAVID MILLER


66 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
Taking state helps
good athlete,” Perkins said. “A lot came
easy, but a lot came hard. I could always do
stuff, but I wasn’t always a complete player.
I still think I’ve got a lot to improve to
become that player in college.
“The key for me was realizing my team
needed me to work hard like it wasn’t com-
ing easy. I knew they expect me to play at a
certain level, and I am going to work hard
Carter earn honor story by DAVID MILLER
and keep that level of expectation.”
Coming off a junior campaign where he
REG CARTER THOUGHT BEING THE ONLY

G
put his name in the hat to be the state’s top
player by the end of his high school career, TEAM IN THE STATE to end the season with
Perkins was fueled by the disappointment
of losing to Greenville-Weston in the North a win would feel different after years of playoff
Half State qualifier. disappointment.
This season, Greenville-Weston caught
The euphoria from winning the game. Others will spring from the
the wrath of a loaded Starkville High squad
Mississippi High School Activities successful ninth-grade program.
in the North Half State title game. As if
Association Class 6A state title gave None of them will hear a word
there wasn’t enough motivation to steam-
the Starkville High School boys bas- about a state title.
roll through the Beehive-hosted North Half ketball coach a myriad emotions. “For me to talk about a state
gauntlet, Vicksburg’s Mychal Ammons — a The victory lifted a burden from championship with next year’s team,
friend of Perkins — and his teammates Carter’s shoulders and certified his they have to win one,” said Carter,
sent trash-talking texts to Perkins the night tenure at the school with a tradition- The Commercial Dispatch’s Large
before their North Half State semifinal tie. setting run that finally provided the Schools Boys Basketball Coach of
“They were talking a lot of noise,” Perkins hardware to prove it. the Year.
said. “From there, it was on and we treated it But if returning to the court after Wiping the slate and starting
like a rivalry. We had our motivation.” failing to accomplish all you set out anew is another way to push out
In that game, however, Starkville leaned for is difficult, getting over the jubi- what has happened and to prepare
on someone other than Perkins, who sat the lation of being the best team in the for what will be everyone’s best
majority of the first half with foul trouble. state has proven just as laborious. shot.
But sophomores Mike Brand, Calvin Young, It’s like breaking up the band But Starkville High’s consistency
and Tory Rice and juniors Jaquez Johnson after selling $10 million records and has helped solidify it as one of the
and Shaquille Hill picked up the slack. winning a Grammy, or being a mili- state’s top programs, so it should be
Perkins knew he would play without tary kid and having to move after used to getting an opponent’s best
pressure through the rest of the playoffs. you’ve found a great group of shot in 2010-11.
“It was a worry when we lost Jacolby friends. This season, the depth Starkville
“You’re putting this last year High anticipated having dwindled as
(Mobley) because he was scoring and han-
behind you,” Carter said one month upperclassmen Antonio Hamilton
dling the ball for us,” Perkins said. “He was
after Starkville High beat Biloxi for and James Sharp either weren’t
key in our season early on, but when other the crown. “It’s different when you there for the start of the season or
guys started to step up you just knew end with a title, but it’s just as difficult were gone by the middle of the sea-
everything was going to be right. because you’re starting over. It makes son. Sophomore starting guard
“We won everything we said we would. it hard when you see guys like Jacolby Mobley took his 10 points a
When does it ever happen like that? I can’t Rashad Perkins and Edward Townsel, game to the bench once the new
ask for much more as a senior.” knowing you’ve got to replace them year started.
Despite the disappointment of playoff and what you did is over.” But juniors Jaquez Johnson and
heartbreak as a sophomore and falling well Offseason turnover has produced Shaquille Hill and sophomores Mike
short as a junior, Perkins said a positive solid starters in Carter’s eight years Brand, Calvin Young, and Tory Rice
memory from his junior season stuck more at Starkville High, so he isn’t wor- used the extra minutes to become
and provided more actuation than the ried about finding players to step in champions in their first varsity season.
knock-out game loss. for Perkins, the state’s most exciting The fact that the team didn’t miss
Leaving a champion and with handfuls player, and Townsel, the quickest a beat as its makeup changed made
of individual awards sets the table for guard. the title run unique, Carter said.
Perkins’ career at Southern Miss, where he There’s a standard at Starkville “It’d start out one way and we’d
easily is Larry Eustachy’s highest-profile High and an understanding that win- get good, then have to shift gears to
signing entering the 2010-11 season. ning basketball is the norm. another direction,” Carter said. “The
Now, state title expectations will chemistry, I was always worried
“I can’t wait to get there in June,”
have more weight and the Yellow about it. But in the first week of
Perkins said. “I look forward to giving
Jackets’ first title defense in 49 sea- February, things started to fall in
Southern fans the same kind of excitement
sons will begin with a new collection line and we started to play well. It
our Starkville fans got. And you know I’ll of players. Some will return with carried us all through the state tour-
try to make it back and see Starkville nament and the Grand Slam.” n
repeat.”n
experience from playing in a title

SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 67


Holman is honored for district title run
AURA LEE HOLMAN ENTERED HER FIRST YEAR IN As a starting guard and All-

L CHARGE of the New Hope High School girls basketball


team by setting the bar at a milestone that hadn’t been
reached in 18 years.
Conference player at Troy University of
coach Michael Murphy, Holman’s
knowledge of the game gave her
advanced insight and helped her take
her first team, Cottondale High (Fla.), to
As a former Lady Trojan, she never had set. the Class 2A playoffs.
experienced the joy of lifting a district Holman’s approach to her new group Not surprisingly, she gave her
championship trophy. Many players of players was simple: Push yourself to Cottondale team the same preseason talk
came before her and finished their New the limit in October and you’ll in enjoy it and set the bar at reaching the playoffs.
Hope High basketball careers in the in February. “I’m a dreamer and don’t believe in
same fashion. The New Hope players bought in, as setting the bar lower than a champi-
The goal, in all likelihood, was the Holman entered her second year of onship,” said Holman, The Commercial
same New Hope coaches before Holman coaching with solid credentials. Dispatch’s Large Schools Girls
Basketball Coach of the Year. “The
school I was at before this, the first
interview I had with the newspaper I
BASKETBALL

ALL AREA told them we were going to state. That


was the headline for the story, and we
SMALL SCHOOLS went.
“I came into New Hope with the

Malone rises to leadership challenge same mentality.”


Holman told her players, “You’re
going to hate me in October, but you’ll
love me in February.”

I
T’S ALL IN THE ATTITUDE FOR DEMETRIUS She wasn’t sure if her players under-
stood the amount of work she would put
MALONE. them through, with three-hour practices
and rounds of cardiovascular training.
Holman also wasn’t sure how the
The West Lowndes High School senior player on the court. One of those times Lady Trojans would fare after they lost
didn’t like the prospect of having to settle came Feb. 5 against Columbus. Already the first two games of the season and
for his team’s first loss of the season, espe- with a 58-51 victory against the Falcons,
dropped both of their district games to
cially in a game he thought it should have Malone (25 points) took over down the
West Point, or if they would hit their
won. stretch. Trailing 48-38 with less than seven
stride and play consistently to make a
Instead of accepting defeat, Malone minutes to play in the fourth quarter, he
run at the Class 5A, Division 2, District
went to Herman Peters and told his coach poured in seven consecutive points, includ-
1 title.
he was going to do something about it. ing a 3-pointer, to cut the deficit to 50-47
New Hope beat Oxford 48-46 in its
“I told him I was ready to and I was with 4 minutes, 18 seconds remaining.
going to pick my teammates up,” Malone West Lowndes went on to win 61-57 in district tournament opener, but the true
said. overtime. test of how far the team had come came
The 6-foot-1 1/2, 170-pound swingman “I feel I had more of a killer instinct,” against West Point in the district final.
lived up to his words — and then some — Malone said. “That game against Trailing by eight points at halftime,
this season. Malone averaged a little more Columbus I was determined not to lose. I Kelli Petty and Kia Edmonds combined
than 22 points per game, 14 rebounds, five didn’t want to lose, and we weren’t going to score 26 points to propel the Lady
assists, forced seven turnovers, and had to lose.” Trojans to a 42-40 win.
five steals a game playing all five positions Malone thought his willingness to take “Those first five minutes in the lock-
for the Panthers. on a bigger role would allow Peters to er room, just to see that joy on their
For his accomplishments, Malone is have more confidence in the team. He also faces was incredible,” Holman said.
The Commercial Dispatch’s Small Schools felt it would improve his and his team- “When we got in the locker room, the
Boys Basketball Player of the Year. mates’ confidence. first thing they said was, ‘Coach, you
“He took the role as a senior leader,” “I took it on more as a responsibility said we’d be having fun in February.’
Peters said. “He is coachable and manage- because I thought I owed it to my guys That was a special feeling to know they
able. Whatever you asked of him he tried because I have been here,” Malone said. “I accomplished something that hadn’t
to do it with 100 percent.” have experienced things and that if they been done in 18 years.”
Peters said Malone took control of the got down I understand and I knew I owed The Lady Trojans moved on to the
team several times, either by saying some- it to them to help get them up.” North Half State playoffs, where they
thing in a timeout or by being the go-to Peters wasn’t surprised by his senior’s lost to Canton 57-52 to finish 16-10. n
story by ADAM MINICHINO story by DAVID MILLER
68 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010
Ewings was dynamic weapon
OMETIMES, TOUGHNESS IS with the varsity, and after start- and she has had interest from

S INGRAINED IN A PLAYER. Growing up


in a large family of boys and as a self-
proclaimed “country girl,” West Point High
ing as the two guard, Ewings
was starting point guard by the
next game.
“On the court, she pushes
me,” Ewings said. “She sees the
USM and a film request from
Vanderbilt.
“She has a good shot (at
making it to the Division I
School point guard Kelsei Ewings has turned littlest things, like if I don’t get
level),” Helms said. “I have seen
what usually is a disadvantage into a weapon. back on defense or if I let some- a lot of point guards and two
body guard me. She’ll get in my guards in Division I that are
At 5-foot-5, Ewings is used to “That’s why I’m not afraid of small. I used to worry about her
face because she knows I can
being one of the shortest play- anybody,” Ewings said. “People
take it. I can always talk to her height being a negative just with
ers on the court. But while tell me, ‘You got to go up against
and she’s going to always keep her signing (a scholarship), but
height typically is coveted at this person’, or ‘She’s five or six
it real with me.” you look at (former Mississippi
every position, Ewings’ blend of this.’ I take it like she’ll be a
Helms said she pushes State guard) Alexis Rack (5-foot-
speed, vision, shooting, and grit threat to me, but I’m not afraid
Ewings because she’s convinced 7) and she’s not that tall. Kelsei
has given West Point coach just because I’m small. I’ve had
she can play at the Division I
Jemmye Ann Helms a dynamic that experience before from will gain weight naturally when
weapon the past three years. being in the yard and playing level, despite the misconcep-
tions about small guards. she goes to college, and in the
Ewings averaged 22 points, with the boys.” weight room here I think we
five assists, four rebounds, and Ewings dropped 30 points Ewings said she often hears
Helms compare her to college can put some more pounds on
five steals a game this season, against Starkville High in the
leading the Lady Wave to a 17-7 season opener, 31 and 24 in and WNBA players. She said her. It will help her a lot. She
record and a spot in the first games against Noxubee County, she does it positively and to has range now and she’s not
round of the Class 5A North and 24 in a loss to New Hope in motivate her when she isn’t very big. Watching the (NCAA)
Half State playoffs, where they the district championship game. playing up to her usual level. tournament, I think she can play
lost to Yazoo City. Helms believes Ewings Ewings will attend junior with anybody.” ■
For her accomplishments, should have averaged close to camps at Mississippi State,
Ewings is The Commercial 30 points this season. She is Southern Miss, and Vanderbilt, story by DAVID MILLER
Dispatch’s Large Schools Girls adamant the killer instinct
Player of the Year. Ewings shows for most of the
Ewings’ brilliance in the open game will make her an even
court was a nightmare to more explosive and prolific Service
defend, especially with the player.
inside-out combination she
formed with forward Kourtney
“She’s always had the ability
to take over the game, and she
Quality
Crowley, a member of The needs to be more aggressive,”
Dispatch’s All-Area second team. Helms said. “I felt like she could Variety
To Ewings, running the fast have had a lot more and-ones
break and handling Helms’ than she did. Sometimes she’s
offense was just like being at
home.
hesitant to take over trying to
make the extra pass, or just Cash & Carry
“I would play football and being conscious of how many
every other sport (the family’s shots she’s taken or how much
boys) would play,” Ewings said. she’s had the ball.”
Building Supplies
“I didn’t want the boys to beat Ewings appreciates Helms’
me, so I had to run faster to
catch them. I increased my
honesty and said it always has
been there in a relationship Lumber • Appliances
speed all my years.” forged when Ewings started on
Playing with the boys helped the varsity team as a freshman.
Ewings develop toughness Initially, Ewings was tentative
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because she always was the when she walked in the gym
smallest player in every compe- and heard from the other play-
tition. She didn’t know that ers, “You’re a freshman, you’re
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would be the case once she not supposed to be here.”
started playing high school bas- But Helms, then in her first
We have a showroom of windows,
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realized she had an advantage in Ewings’ potential and realized
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SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 ◆ THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 69
BASKETBALL
ALL AREA
SMALL SCHOOLS

Hoskins lets her actions speak


AMEIKA HOSKINS ballhandler to a wing player.

J ADMITS SHE
DOESN’T TALK
MUCH. While other players
Bivens also said the position change
helped Hoskins become tougher.
“Jameika is a wonderful player,”
Bivens said. “She listens and wants to
get better. All she wanted to know was
slap teammates on the back what she needed to do, and she did it
and create a lot of noise on without hesitation.”
the court, Hoskins takes a Bivens said Hoskins improved this
season the most on defense. He said he
stealthier approach. didn’t have to get on to Hoskins to play
The Aberdeen High School senior defense in part because he said she
guard/forward always has preferred to recognized she was someone who set
let her playing do the talking. the tone for the team.
This season, Hoskins continued to In fact, Bivens said he saw Hoskins
become more of a vocal presence and a speak up during timeouts and encour-
leader on the court. Those qualities age teammates. He said that leadership
helped her lead the team in scoring helped the Lady Bulldogs overcome
(21.7 points per game) and to a 24-3 tough stretches.
record. “One of her biggest problems was
“When you’re a vocal player you’re a she always knew what was wrong but
great player,” Hoskins said. “I think she never opened her mouth and said
that is one of the things I was lacking it,” Bivens said. “As the year went on
over the other years.” she was able to say things. The key is
For her accomplishments this sea- Jameika Hoskins goes for a layup while not what you say but how you say it.
son, Hoskins is The Commercial two Tupelo High defenders watch. When she said things the team listened
Dispatch Small Schools Girls Basketball and they just followed her.”
Volleyball Player of the Year. “It started
Player of the Year. Hoskins originally decided to play
out good with volleyball and making it
Aberdeen reached Jackson last year basketball at Alcorn State in Lorman,
farther than we did the other seasons.
and saw its season end to eventual but she reconsidered that choice and
With basketball, we were ready for the
Class 3A state champion Raymond. But last month signed a letter of intent to
state part. It didn’t end too well.”
most people at the game, including the Aberdeen’s volleyball team beat St. play at Itawamba Community College.
Raymond coach and players, felt Andrew’s in the opening round of the Bivens feels that step will help
Aberdeen had made significant strides Class I North Half State tournament Hoskins become the player he knows
from the 2007-08 season, when before nearly beating Center Hill in the she can be. He said Hoskins will be
Raymond easily eliminated Aberdeen. second round. able to shine and that her competitive-
That’s why the 2009-10 campaign In girls basketball, Hoskins felt she ness and enthusiasm for the game will
was filled with anticipation that maybe took several steps as a player and as a come out easier having family and
this season, especially with Raymond leader. She said she played through a friends close by to support her.
moving up to Class 4A after the state’s shoulder injury she suffered two games Hoskins said her senior girls basket-
reclassification, would be the one when prior to the game against Ripley. She ball season was a first step toward
Aberdeen could win a Class 3A title. also feels she learned more of what she becoming even more of a vocal pres-
But Ripley’s 55-51 victory against will have to do as a lead-by-example and ence on the court. She said her ability
Aberdeen in the second round of the as a vocal contributor. to lead her teammates gave her confi-
North Half State playoffs shattered “I can do many things if I put my dence she can do it even better at the
those dreams. Despite the disappoint- mind to it,” Hoskins said. next level.
ment, Hoskins took pride in everything Aberdeen High girls basketball “I am shy person. I don’t like to
she helped the volleyball, girls basket- coach Latorrence Bivens said this past talk,” Hoskins said. “Coach always
ball, and track and field teams achieve. season was the best of Hoskins’ five- pulled me over and told me I need to
“My senior year has been great,” year varsity career. He said her deci- become more vocal and be more of a
said Hoskins, who was named The sion-making allowed her to make the leader on the team. I took it and
Commercial Dispatch’s All-Area transition from her role as a primary became more of a vocal leader.”n

story by ADAM MINICHINO

70 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH u SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010


BASKETBALL
ALL AREA
WEST ALABAMA

Pickens County sweeps after winning state title


T THE BEGINNING championship in Pickens County histo- the Tornadoes in the postseason and

A OF THE BASKET-
BALL SEASON,
Pickens County coach Russ
ry this season.
Pickens County capped a 27-2 sea-
son by outlasting Houston County 88-86
in triple overtime in the Alabama High
School Athletic Association Class 2A
for the season averaged 13.8 points, 5.8
rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 3.4 steals per
game.
Curry was instrumental in all three
games despite throwing up at halftime
Wallace believed his team was championship game on Feb. 25 at the of the Lanett game, colliding with an
a year away from contending Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center in opposing player in the Sand Rock
Birmingham, Ala. game, and crashing into press row in
for a state championship. Curry was instrumental in leading the Houston County game.
Wallace experienced a tumultuous the Tornadoes to the title by pouring in “I think his leadership, not only from
offseason when he had to kick two a game-high 31 points in the champi- a vocal standpoint, but from how he
starters and three other players off the onship game. played, kind of carried the team and
team, and he didn’t know how his play- For their roles in leading Pickens bonded the team,” Wallace said. “The
ers would respond. County to the championship, Wallace is team kind of all joined in with him.
“We had so many problems during The Commercial Dispatch West They had that never give up, never say
the summer,” Wallace said. “We had a Alabama Boys Basketball Coach of the die attitude.”
lot of situations going on. Year, and Curry is the Player of the Curry, who earned All-State honors
“My mind-set going into the start of Year. by the Alabama Sports Writers
the season was, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get Curry, a 5-foot-11 guard, was at his Association, was especially clutch
these guys ready because next year against Houston County, when the
best in the postseason. He scored 22
we’re going to have a legit shot at win- Tornadoes scored seven points in the
points and grabbed 13 rebounds
ning the state championship.’ I knew I final 8.8 seconds of the third overtime
against Lanett in the Class 2A, Central
had Deion (Curry) as a junior and I to rally from an 86-81 deficit. He made
Regional championship game on Feb.
knew I had these sophomores (LaJuan a 3-pointer from the top of the key
18 and scored 17 points against Sand
Doss and Nick Stewart).” with 8.8 seconds left to make it 86-84
Rock in the state tournament semifinals
But much to Wallace’s surprise, the and then he grabbed a rebound, was
on Feb. 23 before leading the way in fouled, and made two free throws with
Tornadoes put it together quicker than the title game.
he anticipated and won the first state 5.9 seconds to go to tie the score 86-
He picked up the scoring load for 86.
Malone continued Wallace led the Tornadoes to the
title even though he believes he had
attitude. In fact, he was looking for it. He pointing not realizing that goal again. better teams in the past. Pickens
was rewarded early in the season when Malone hopes to realize a dream of County won despite not having the
after a loss to Aliceville Malone came to earning a baseball scholarship to play at dominating player inside like in the
him and told him he was ready to take on Mississippi Valley State University. He past with 6-6 DeAndre Hersey (who
the role of senior leader. said at first he was care free in baseball plays basketball at South Alabama) and
“Not only did he say it, but he showed 6-6 Michael Williams (who plays foot-
but grew into it after he started playing
it,” Peters said. “He knew from the begin- ball at Alabama).
the sport when he was 11. He began to believe the Tornadoes
ning of the season he had to be the
leader. He took it from there and kept Peters knows Malone will excel at could contend for a state title when
going.” either sport, and has encouraged him to they played Class 6A No. 1 Tuscaloosa
Peters said Malone did it all this sea- give basketball a shot, too, if he feels he Hillcrest in a Christmas tournament
son. He was a playmaker and a rebound- has time and will be able to make the and lost by five points.
er. Most importantly, he realized he need- transition. “That game made me realize it,”
ed to score in clutch situations to help the “He can go to any junior college and Wallace said. “I even told the kids, ‘You
Panthers be their best. start now if wanted to,” Peters said. “Most know you showed me something right
“I think he took it as a challenge at first of the offers he had for basketball were there.’ When they showed me that it
and then as a responsibility,” Peters said. made me re-think about this basketball
from out-of-state schools. He has the abili-
“Other players started to look to him after team because I saw something in this
ty wherever he goes to play more than
that point (early in the season).” team I’ve been trying to get out of my
one sport. He is a Beta Club student, so kids at Pickens County for 15 years.
West Lowndes beat Columbus twice,
he is able to go and do whatever. “This bunch had the heart and
West Point, Noxubee County, and won its
holiday tournament. Even though the “He has the ability to blossom. When desire to where they didn’t want to
team didn’t get to return to Jackson, he gets to the next level he will be able to lose. That tournament changed my per-
Malone said the Panthers, who moved focus on one position, shooting guard, ception of this basketball team.”n
from Class 1A to 2A, had a successful sea- which he is. There is no limit to where he
son. He admitted, though, it was disap- can go.”n story by HENRY MATUSZAK
SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010 u THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH 71
Pickens Academy reaps
Index of top honors for title run
Advertisers RIOR TO THE OPENING TIP OF THE
ACR Coach ................................................................... 18
Bancorp South .............................................................. 43
BankTel Systems ........................................................... 12
P BASKETBALL SEASON, the Pickens
Academy Lady Pirates set a goal to win
a state championship.
Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle...Back Cover Pickens Academy coach Wade Goodman and senior forward
Brooks Eye Center........................................................ 48 Callie Minor were confident the Lady Patriots could accomplish
the feat after making it to the Elite Eight of the state playoffs the
Cash & Carry Building Supplies ................................... 69 previous two years.
Coca-Cola ..................................................................... 46 “My expectations were very high,” Minor said. “All of us girls
Columbus Orthopaedic ...................... Inside Front Cover had played together for a long time and I knew what we had as a
team. I knew what kind of skills we had, so I thought we’d be
Columbus Police Department ...................................... 59 very good.”
Columbus School District ............................................. 10 Led by Goodman and Minor, the Lady Pirates lived up to the
expectations and won the state championship that they had set
Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority ................... 18
their sights on at the beginning of the season.
The Dispatch ................................................................ 19 Pickens Academy (28-3) capped a memorable season when it
Dr. James L. Holzhauer................................................. 41 defeated Lakeside Christian 53-39 in the Alabama Independent
School Association Class AA championship game on Feb. 19 at
Falcon Lair Apartments .................................................. 3 Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Ala.
Fashion Barn ................................................................... 3 “I honestly think that anybody could have coached them to a
Fitness Factor ............................................................... 11 state championship this year,” Goodman said. “It’s been nice to
watch them mature over the past three years.”
The Granite Guys ......................................................... 33 The 5-foot-10 Minor had a game-high 18 points and seven
Heritage Academy ....................................................... 13 rebounds to lead the Lady Pirates to the championship game.
Immanuel Center for Christian Education .................... 21 For their roles in leading Pickens Academy to the title,
Goodman is The Commercial Dispatch West Alabama Girls
Lowndes County Radial Tire......................................... 47 Basketball Coach of the Year and Minor is the Player of the
Lowndes Funeral Home & Crematory .......................... 25 Year.
Minor was one of three seniors that provided leadership for
Maggie Proffitt ............................................................. 11
the Lady Pirates. The other seniors were Catherine Johnson and
McKellar Proffitt ........................................................... 13 Tate Fuller.
Memorial and Gunter & Peel Funeral Homes .............. 23 Minor led the Lady Pirates in scoring and rebounding, aver-
aging 17 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Monograms Plus........................................................... 13 “She’s amazing with the things she can do on the court,”
New Home Building Stores .......................................... 13 Goodman said. “She knows exactly what her role is, which is
New Hope Gifts............................................................ 18 rebounding and getting those hard inside points that we need.”
Minor, who intends to attend Shelton State Community
Reed’s ........................................................................... 29 College in Tuscaloosa, Ala., also was a pitcher on the school’s
Rehab at Work .............................................................. 27 softball team.
Goodman, 36, coached the Lady Pirates to the championship
Rodney Ray .................................................................. 49
in his third season at Pickens Academy. He was coaching little
Sports Specialty.............................................................. 1 league baseball and had never coached girls sports when he
Sqwincher ............................................ Inside Back Cover was approached about coaching the Lady Pirates.
“I just came in off the streets, basically,” Goodman said. “I
Starkville School District ............................................... 31 never dreamed I’d be coaching girls sports. Never. My whole
Triangle Federal Credit Union ...................................... 65 reason for going down there (for an interview) was to get my
YMCA ........................................................................... 55 foot in the door for the baseball job.”
For not having experience coaching girls basketball prior to
three years ago, Goodman is to be commended for the job he
did with the Lady Pirates this season, Minor said.
Minor said Goodman demanded excellence and it led to a
state championship. “He did a very good job,” Minor said. “He
was tough on us acting right and doing the right things. He
taught us a lot this year. He was a very good coach and did all
the right things.”■

story by HENRY MATUSZAK


72 THE COMMERCIAL DISPATCH ◆ SPORTS REVIEW 2009-2010