STARKVILLE -- Martha Alwal still can't grasp the enormity of her situation.
Four years ago, Alwal was a shy, 6-foot-4 center then-Mississippi State women's basketball coach Sharon Fanning-Otis "found" and offered a scholarship to leave Worthington, Minnesota, to come to Starkville to play basketball in the Southeastern Conference.
Vanilla is OK with Billy Clark.
In Clark's time as teaching professional at Twin Rivers Recreation Center in Greenwood and at Cleveland Country Club, he played integral roles in helping the facilities to play host to events.
Things have been a little more involved -- and tasty -- in Clark's three and a half years in Columbus.
Basketball has had a special place in La'Quesha Clemons' life for as long as she can remember.
STARKVILLE -- Legacy.
Years from now, Vic Schaefer hopes historians will be able to look back on the 2014-15 season and call it the year the Mississippi State women's basketball team re-established itself on the national scene.
Josh Stillman didn't need an adjustment period.
Most pitchers would need several games to settle their nerves and to learn how to maintain their composure after being asked to move from the middle of the rotation to the front of the line. There's more pressure as a team's No. 1 starter. That title also earns a pitcher first crack at the best teams on a squad's schedule.
Yandell Harris wasn't thinking about coaching basketball three weeks ago.
Zaria Jenkins was scared.
Jay Jay Swanigan was nervous.
Infectious is a great way to describe La'Quesha Clemons' game.
At 6-foot, Clemons wasn't always the tallest player on the court. The West Lowndes High School senior forward also didn't have the usual girth to bang bodies with other post players in the paint.
But Clemons never let what she didn't have slow her down. Instead, she approached every minute on the basketball court as a challenge and a chance to let her love for the game shine in her performance. Although she might not have realized it, Clemons' energy and enthusiasm for the sport rubbed off on her teammates and helped push them to bigger things.
On Wednesday, Clemons' high-energy style of play paid dividends for her, as she signed a letter of intent to play basketball at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba.
Neal Hanley used to run in the Frostbite Half Marathon in Starkville, so he is well accustomed to all of the activities available to Golden Triangle residents.
Hanley also used to be an early morning running partner of Brad Atkins when he lived in Columbus. Hanley fondly remembers the five- to seven-mile runs he and Atkins used to do probably three times a week about a year ago.
Columbus High School is looking for a new boys basketball coach and a new boys soccer coach.
On Wednesday, a job posting for a boys basketball coach on the Columbus Municipal School District website signaled the end of the tenure of Sammy Smith.
It's easier to be aggressive when you're having fun.
CALEDONIA -- Jorden Hollowell hoped to be a starting pitcher this season.
Coming off a sophomore year in which he logged 7 1/3 innings for the Caledonia High School baseball team, Hollowell wanted to play a bigger role as a junior in the 2015 campaign. As much as he hoped to see more innings as a pitcher, Hollowell, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound right-hander, wasn't sure how much work he was going to have to put in to realize that goal. He figured it would take a while in part because he was switching from a sidearm delivery he used as a sophomore back to the overhand motion he had used prior to last season.
STARKVILLE -- "I think we have come a long way in a short amount of time."
Wendell Rieves has area-code range on the basketball court.
But Rieves' skills and accomplishments in sneakers pale in comparison to the versatility and potential the West Lowndes High School senior has in cleats.
Last week, Rieves had an opportunity to showcase those skills for a chance to earn a scholarship to play baseball. He didn't disappoint.
India Yarborough doesn't use words like "empower" and "leader" lightly.
From being a co-captain on the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science girls soccer team to being an active member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church to working as a volunteer to sponsoring a mentoring program for eighth-grade girls at Columbus Middle School, Yarborough understands the importance of setting an example for others. It's something she has done for 10 years on the soccer field and throughout her time as a student at Columbus High School and now at MSMS, a public residential high school for academically gifted students in Columbus on the campus of the Mississippi University for Women.
DURHAM, N.C. -- The Mississippi State women's basketball team will have to wait until next season to try to put together 40 minutes on offense.
While MSU's defense was consistent for most of the season, the Bulldogs offered flashes of what they could do on offense all year, particularly in the first 25 minutes of a loss to Kentucky in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference.
DURHAM, N.C. -- Eight.
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