Seconds after New Hope closed out Oxford 8-5 in a Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) prep baseball contest Tuesday night, a wild celebration erupted.
With two losses to teams with Ratings Percentage Indexes (RPIs) higher than 50 and two more to teams with RPIs higher than 100, the Mississippi State baseball team gave its fans reason to doubt. Home losses to Morehead State, Louisiana Tech, Florida International, and Marist allowed the curiosity that accompanies a team at the start of a season to turn into skepticism.
The buzz has started. Could all 13 Southeastern Conference softball-playing schools make the NCAA tournament? The league has received an all-time best 11 invites in each of the last four seasons. However, the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) figures indicate a higher number might be on the horizon.
The final hurdle has arrived.
There have been humbling times for Vic Schaefer in five years in Starkville. A 22-day stretch in January 2013 was the most trying time for the veteran coach, as the Mississippi State women's basketball lost to Vanderbilt by 51 points, Kentucky by 53, and Texas A&M by 48. A season that showed so much potential in a 50-38 victory against then-No. 11 Georgia at Humphrey Coliseum ended with a thud to Alabama in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament in Duluth, Georgia.
Noxubee County High School football coach Tyrone Shorter knew when it was a job well done. When Shorter received a hug from assistant coach/offensive coordinator James Patterson, it meant things were right with the world.
It's possible to see why some might have considered the Mississippi State women's basketball team's trip to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament a forgone conclusion.
Vic Schaefer knows how to work a court. Whether it is standing still with arms folded tightly across his chest or dancing on the sideline in front of the Mississippi State bench, Schaefer knows how to get his message across and to energize his players and his fans. Schaefer also knows how to work a room.
Doug Bruno likes selling tickets. But as much as the DePaul women's basketball coach believes -- like Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer -- that offense sells tickets, defense wins games, and defensive rebounding wins championships, he understands there is more to the discussion when it comes to helping the sport grow.
JACKSON When the West Point High School girls basketball team defeated No. 1 West Jones in its first game at the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A state tournament, West Point coach Dashmond Daniel received a congratulatory text from Starkville girls coach Kristie Williams.
In the Mattox household, the awards, plaques and trophies are not displayed in one place.
GREENVILLE, S.C. There aren't any excuses in the upper stratosphere of women's college basketball. It doesn't matter if you're ready to play, four-time reigning national champion Connecticut will hang a 56-point loss on you like it is nothing. That's what UConn did to South Florida, a top-25 team for much of the year, on Monday night in the championship game of the American Athletic Conference.
West Lowndes High School football coach Anthony King is going to miss the phone calls this fall.
STARKVILLE Kevin Green made a life-changing decision roughly 13 years ago. Green left a stable, well-paying job with FedEx to open a business. A personal business venture is always a tricky proposition. However, he had two driving forces behind the move.
It was just a tick or two after 4 p.m. and even as the last few dozen people squeezed into the remaining seats in Humphrey Coliseum, the Mississippi State women's basketball team controlled the tip. Point guard Morgan William dribbled to the left of the key and floated a pass over the defense to Victoria Vivians, who had slipped a screen and was flying toward the basket for a layup and a 2-0 lead against Tennessee. Everyone agreed this was how the afternoon was supposed to go.
If you have walked the concourse at Humphrey Coliseum, you most likely have noticed the pictures that take you through the history of Mississippi State basketball.
The air continues to get thinner, but the Mississippi State women's basketball team keeps climbing. On Monday, MSU remained at No. 3 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll. Hours later, though, MSU learned it had moved from No. 4 to No. 2 in the third and final NCAA Reveal by the NCAA tournament selection committee. The NCAA Reveal is a projection of the top 16 seeds for the NCAA tournament if the event was scheduled to start today.
STARKVILLE The Mississippi State women's basketball has been almost beyond reproach this season. In the process, the Bulldogs have matured from a hunter into the hunted. At No. 4 in the nation and preparing for a stretch run of six more regular-season games, MSU is at a point only a few imagined would be attainable when Vic Schaefer arrived prior to the 2012-13 season. The Bulldogs are 23-1 and in second place in the Southeastern Conference with a 9-1 record. They have won 20-plus games four years in a row. They are on pace to improve their win total for the fourth-straight season and to secure a bid to the NCAA tournament for a third-straight season.
Saturday really can't come quick enough for Mississippi State softball coach Vann Stuedeman and her Bulldogs. Saturday marks the opening day of practice for the 2017 season. To borrow a phrase from president-elect Donald Trump, it's a "huge" season for the Bulldogs.
March is the best month of the year for prep basketball coaches. That is when the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) and Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) crown state champions.
1. EMCC mourns loss of Clemons COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Columbus boys will face nationally ranked Memphis East tonight HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Hard work pays off for Campbell on MSU women's team COLLEGE SPORTS
4. McNelis likes what she sees from No. 7 MSU COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Howland believes MSU men can play better defense COLLEGE SPORTS