Effort is the equalizer for JD Earhart. The New Hope High School senior admits there were days he doubted he would get a chance to continue to play soccer in college. Ever since Earhart was a 6-year-old in the Columbus youth soccer league, he recalls dreaming about keeping his soccer career going. On the days when that doubt crept in, though, Earhart didn't let it sidetrack him. Instead, he opted for a simple approach that would get him back on track.
ABERDEEN -- The knock on Marcus Carouthers has been he can't shoot. Naysayers also have said the Aberdeen High School senior is an "average" post player. If you subscribe to either of those notions, be sure not to tell Carouthers you feel that way because he will make you pay. It might not be right away, but Carouthers will smile and file your comment away. Come game time, he will dissect you from inside and outside and on the fast break to make you pay.
Pressure defenses are designed to give teams plenty of chances to create separation.
STARKVILLE -- Kristie Williams, welcome to the "Big House."
All year long, the Starkville Yellow Jackets have had one thing on their mind - getting to Jackson and competing for a state championship.
The Hernando High School girls' basketball team had a narrow glimmer of hope of when it cut Columbus' lead to 10 by halftime on Friday night.
WEST POINT - Already playing with house money, West Point High girls' basketball coach Dashmond Daniel decided to gamble late in his team's Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A Playoff opener against Ridgeland Friday night.
Shemar Johnson downplayed his emotions Tuesday night. Playing in front of a packed New Hope High School student section for the final time, Johnson jammed home two monster dunks for old times sake.
MABEN -- If you were to look on paper at the West Oktibbeha County High School boys basketball team's 81-51 victory against Dexter in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A State tournament Tuesday night, it might seem like just another ordinary first-round victory.
GRENADA -- The Columbus High School boys basketball team opened the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A State tournament with a 67-47 win against Grenada on Tuesday night.
Wendell Rieves wants to get back to the "Big House." Last season, Rieves was a junior on the West Lowndes High School boys basketball team that advanced to play in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A State tournament at Mississippi Coliseum. A disappointing loss to Shaw left a bad taste in the mouths of all of the West Lowndes players and provided ample motivation for the 2014-15 season.
MABEN -- Danny Crawford had a feeling about his West Oktibbeha County High School boys basketball team. Even though the Timberwolves only have eight players, Crawford knew his team's size on the front line would serve it well as it made a playoff push in the second half of the season.
There are no more reprieves. There also are no more third-place games to help teams extend their seasons. Starting tonight, area boys and girls basketball teams will have to win or they will have to go home. The New Hope (Class 5A), Aberdeen (Class 3A), West Oktibbeha and West Lowndes (Class 1A) high school boys basketball teams will play host to Mississippi High School Activities Associations games tonight, while Columbus (Class 6A), West Point (Class 5A), East Oktibbeha and Hamilton (Class 1A) will go on the road to try to extend their seasons.
One choice didn't force Daniel Merchant to turn his back on his alma mater. Instead, when Merchant learned in January that the head football coach position at Sulligent High School was open again, the 2004 graduate of the school re-applied for the position.
WEST POINT -- The New Hope High School boys basketball team nearly made everyone forget its slow start. Somehow after scoring only four points in the first quarter and trailing by 16 points, New Hope found itself in the lead, 55-54, following a steal by Jaylon Bardley and a thunderous dunk by Shemar Johnson with 1 minute, 49 seconds remaining against Oxford in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A, Region 2 title game at West Point High. But that would be the only lead the Trojans would taste.
Terry Tate tip-toed along the West Oktibbeha sideline repeatedly Friday night. The Timberwolves' point guard was often flushed to that side by the West Lowndes High School boys basketball team's 2-2-1 press. The pressure forced the eighth-grader into a string of turnovers in the second half of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A, Region 5 championship game Friday night at West Lowndes High.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School girls basketball coach Kristie Williams commonly refers to the season as a marathon instead of a sprint. Friday night had to feel like two marathons. For the third time this season, Starkville was taken to the brink by archrival Columbus. Again, the Lady Jackets survived.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School senior Josh Skinner breaks down the formula for the boys basketball team's success at home this season as a three-step process. "It starts with being excited and ready at the tip," Skinner said. "Then all five guys on the floor play some great defense. Everybody is active and we get some easy steals and get the other team rattled a little bit."
Roosevelt Bridges knows the road back to Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson isn't going to be easy.
Columbus High School boys basketball coach Sammy Smith knows his team can deliver a better effort than it gave Tuesday night in the opening round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A, Region 3 tournament.
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