Next man up.
New Hope High School girls soccer coach Mary Nagy knew her team had some high expectations this season.
SALTILLO -- New Hope High School senior defender Kayla Smith spent a large majority of Tuesday night's playoff match against Saltillo encouraging her teammates to calm down. However, when Saltillo's Ashley Harman hit the crossbar on the final shot attempt of a shootout, calmness was no longer necessary.
CALEDONIA -- Caledonia High School sophomore defender Sam Young found himself in a big spot Monday night. On a senior-laden team, Young and his backline mates were charged with slowing a fast Senatobia attack in the opening round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A North State playoffs. Much like the teammates who have gone before him, Young was up to the challenge as Caledonia defeated Senatobia 4-1 to advance to the second round for a second-straight season.
There's something different about a good old-fashioned rivalry. That's why the Heritage Academy boys basketball team's 78-49 victory against division rival Starkville Academy on Monday was special for the seniors.
Robert Woodard II didn't have visions of grandeur for his first season with the Columbus High School boys basketball team. Instead, the 6-foot-5, 205-pound guard/forward wanted to fit in and do whatever he could to help the Falcons soar.
PHEBA -- Alec Vasquez took care of the first half. R.J. DeLoach handled the second. And just like that, the Columbus Christian Academy boys basketball team displayed Friday why it will enter the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class A, District 3 tournament as the No. 1 seed with a 54-46 victory at Hebron Christian School.
The Columbus High School boys basketball team wasn't expected to struggle Friday night against Northwest Rankin. After all, Northwest Rankin entered the game winless in the region and with just three wins. Still, leading by 12 points in the fourth after leading by more than 20, Columbus coach Sammy Smith shook his head and gave his players the stink eye. Arguably his most talented and athletic -- and biggest -- team in recent memory, Smith is keen to see his team make a run to the state tournament.
WEST POINT -- The New Hope High School boys basketball team started with the simplest of game plans Friday night. "My game is attacking and getting the ball to the rim," New Hope sophomore guard Terryonte Thomas said. "Our game plan was to get the ball to the goal and draw some fouls. We were really aggressive early, and that helped us get the win."
You undoubtedly have heard before that location often is the most important aspect in the survival of a business. The same adage holds true in sports. After all, that's why the saying, "right place at the right time" has become cliche. That saying probably is most appropriate for soccer, where a well-timed run can give a player a chance to pounce on a rebound, or a service hit with the right touch can set up a team to cash in. When those elements happen on the same play, beautiful things are the result.
Size has a lot to do with the determining positions for players in youth sports. In basketball, the taller boys and girls usually play center or forward to maximize their ability to get rebounds and to play closer to the basket so they can use their height to shoot over players.
Vic Schaefer believes his players understand what it takes to win in the Southeastern Conference. His Mississippi State women's basketball team showed it had the fortitude to battle through adversity and tough defenses to win its first three SEC games for the first time in program history. Those victories helped propel MSU to an 18-0 start and a spot at No. 14 in The Associated Press Top 25.
Tanita Thompson didn't need to be reminded about the significance of the Starkville High School girls basketball team's Class 6A, Region 3 game Friday night at Columbus.
The talk always fascinated Mary Grace Caldwell. She just wasn't sure she believed it. "You will be one of the few that plays college golf," Caldwell recalls friends and coaches telling her. Caldwell didn't take those words to heart because she believes there always is room for improvement in your sport. It wasn't until last season, when Caldwell was part of the New Hope High School girls golf team' Class II state championship squad that she embraced the notion that she could take her game to the next level.
Three hats, one mantra: Hard work. Even though Sam Taylor (Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College), Josh Stillman (Northeast Mississippi C.C.), and Payton Lane (Mississippi Delta C.C.) donned different caps Thursday that signified the next steps in their baseball careers, the New Hope High School standouts acknowledged they shared a bond that helped them realize their opportunities. That hard work has been on display the past two years as part of New Hope High's back-to-back Class 5A state championships. All three don't plan on changing anything this season and later this year when they realize their opportunities to play college baseball.
STARKVILLE -- People skills can help you earn a college scholarship. Michael Sullivan's parents didn't use that language in raising their son to be a "people person," but they hoped their son wouldn't hesitate when he saw an opportunity to meet someone, especially a coach who could help him take the next step in his soccer career. It just so happens Sullivan had an interesting ice-breaker to start a memorable conversation nearly two years ago with a "stranger."
After dropping a key boys division game last week to Canton Academy, Oak Hill Academy basketball coach Brian Middleton knew that his team needed another boost. A non-division rivalry game Tuesday at Heritage Academy provided that lift, as Oak Hill Academy earned a 46-41 victory.
STARKVILLE -- Cailee Helen McClain was already resting, sipping of a post-match Gatorade and receiving congratulatory messages from her teammates. It's not every day a high school soccer player scores three goals in a match to lead a team to victory. On this day, though, it happened twice.
Madison Central High School senior Leroy Buchanan admits one of his worst offensive performances this season came last month in a Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A, Region 3 home win over Columbus.
STARKVILLE - There's nothing about the area's current weather that suggests baseball season is coming.
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2. New Hope girls go to shootout to beat Saltillo HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
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