CALEDONIA — Things were set up perfectly for the Caledonia High School boys soccer team. A victory in a penalty kick shootout at Amory High last week gave Caledonia the inside track on clinching the Class 4A, Division 3, District 1 title. But Morgan Mansfield has coached long enough to know that nothing in sports is guaranteed. In fact, Mansfield was concerned Monday after a lackluster practice that the Confederates wouldn’t be mentally prepared to deliver the same kind of focused effort they turned in at Amory High.
Ever since playing in his first match at the age of 4, Houston Walker has enjoyed playing soccer. He enjoyed playing in Columbus and Tupelo recreation soccer leagues and for six years as a member of the Columbus High School soccer team. With his high school career nearly completed, Walker will get to continue to play the sport he enjoys next season in college. Walker’s future came into focus Tuesday when he signed a scholarship to play soccer at Itawamba Community College in Fulton.
STARKVILLE -- Shay Bonner made four-of-four free throws in the final 15 seconds as the Starkville High School’s girls basketball team defeated rival West Point 60-53 on Tuesday night. After the Lady Yellow Jackets (13-4) took leads of 12-10 after the first quarter and 24-21 at halftime, the Lady Green Wave wrestled the advantage away to their favor at 40-39 after the third quarter. Bonner (12 points) made a basket with 1 minute and 20 seconds remaining in the game to break a 51-51 tie and then she made the free throws at the end to ice it.
STARKVILLE — Assists are just as good as goals to Frankie Jones. If pushed to give a preference, Jones isn’t going to deny he enjoys scoring goals a little bit more. But you wouldn’t know it by Jones’ performance so far this season. The Starkville Academy senior forward/midfielder notched four goals and four assists to help the Volunteers close the week with victories against Heritage Academy and Magnolia Heights. Jones’ efforts helped Starkville Academy improve to 7-0 on the season. For his accomplishments, Jones is The Commercial Dispatch Prep Player of the Week.
Defense is the engine that drives the New Hope High School boys basketball team. Former coach Robert Byrd helped perfect the formula of in-your-jersey pressure and relentless effort. Those ingredients ultimately paid off for Rashanti Harris, Dale Hughes and the rest of the Trojans in a Class 4A state title in 2008. The Trojans showcased those same skills last season. An undersized and inexperienced team used grit and resolve to rack up a 25-6 record before it lost to eventual Class 4A state champion Callaway in the third-place game of the North Half State tournament in Jackson.
The district race in one half of Class 5A, Region 2, District 1 got a little closer Friday night. Junior Kelsei Ewings scored a game-high 27 points to lead a three-pronged attack that helped the West Point High School girls basketball team beat New Hope 66-58 in Columbus. In the boys game, Johnathan Brandon had a game-high 21 points to lead New Hope to a 53-45 victory.
A talented class of senior baseball players at New Hope High School made its first mark on the college game Friday afternoon. East Mississippi Community College’s Tony Montgomery and Wallace State College’s Randy Putnam hope to be the beneficiaries. Montgomery signed infielder Philip Tice and pitcher/catcher Jake Upton to scholarships, while Putnam added pitcher/outfielder Jake Smith to the fold for the 2010-11 season.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School’s Alvaro Pichardo couldn’t wait to get back onto the soccer field after losing to Tupelo High last week. Starkville’s 3-1 loss to the Golden Wave in a Class 6A, Division 2 match left a bad taste in Pichardo’s mouth. On Friday night, Pichardo took out his frustration on Columbus High School’s boys soccer team. Pichardo scored the first and the last goal for the Yellow Jackets and had three total in a 7-1 victory.
ABERDEEN — The Aberdeen High School Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs and West Point Lady Green Wave and Okolona Chieftains posted first-round wins Thursday to advance to Saturday’s championship games of the Aberdeen Invitational Tournament. Aberdeen’s boys slipped past West Point 57-53 in the closest contest of the opening round, while the Lady Bulldogs beat West Lowndes 71-48 to assure the host teams a spot in the championship games. The West Point girls grabbed a spot opposite Aberdeen in the finals by beating Okolona 72-38, and Okolona’s boys will face the Bulldogs in the boys’ final by virtue of an 80-57 win against West Lowndes.
The Lamar County and Sulligent high school boys basketball teams are getting quite familiar with one another this season. The teams have already played twice and they meet again Friday in Vernon, Ala. The teams played at Sulligent on Saturday.
STARKVILLE -- Columbus High School girls basketball coach Yvonne Hairston wasn’t surprised to see a senior pull down the game-securing rebound. When Jessica Richardson came down with the rebound as the final buzzer sounded to give the Lady Falcons a 72-71 victory against Starkville High School, Hairston was happy to see the turn of events. Hairston has come to expect Richardson to be in the right place at the right time.
Tuesday night was an appetizer, albeit one served on a cold, crunchy surface. Despite the conditions, the New Hope and Columbus high school girls and boys soccer coaches were pleased with what they saw from their teams in one of the final non-district matches of the season. Morgan Hardin scored two goals to lead the New Hope girls to a 4-2 victory, while the Columbus boys used two first-half goals to edge New Hope 2-1 in the nightcap.
ACKERMAN –– Justin Frye poured in a team-leading 29 points Tuesday night to lead the Heritage Academy boys basketball team past Ackerman High School 90-72. It was the sixth win in a row for Heritage Academy (14-4). Tyler White scored 21 points and Will West scored 20 for Heritage Academy, which plays Friday at Pillow Academy.
Tyler White is ready for anything.
GRENADA –– Justin Frye scored 19 points Wednesday to lead three players in double figures and help propel the Heritage Academy boys basketball team past West Memphis Christian 66-47 in the Kirk Academy Invitational Tournament.
The Pickens County High School boys basketball team will attempt to keep a good thing going Friday and Saturday at the Pickens County Tournament at Gordo High. The Tornadoes will take the court in pursuit of their fourth-consecutive championship and ninth in coach Russ Wallace’s 13-year tenure.
Madison Ford had a right to be tired. Playing on back-to-back nights after returning from a bout with mononucleosis can be considered too much to ask for any basketball player. That’s what Ford has done for the Heritage Academy girls team. The senior was strong, especially down the stretch against Starkville Academy, as the Lady Patriots rallied for a 44-41 victory against the Lady Volunteers. After scoring 29 points in a 58-45 loss to Oak Hill Academy on Monday night, Ford scored 17 points against Starkville Academy.
The evening started and ended with exclamation marks for the Columbus High School boys basketball team. The good news is senior center Bobby Wrench was in the middle of the action. Wrench opened Tuesday night with a dunk and finished it with another flush en route to a 23-point effort in Columbus High’s 75-69 victory against Noxubee County.
Everything has increased this season for Kala Williams. It’s not that Williams didn’t play an important role for the Starkville High School girls basketball team last season, it’s just that things are magnified when you’re a senior. But Williams is handling the added responsibility just fine. The 5-foot-9 guard is averaging 19 points a game and is second on the team in rebounding (six per game). She is coming off a three-game stretch last week at the Hattiesburg Classic in which she averaged 20.7 points. She had 24 points in a victory against Brookhaven and 25 points in a victory against Oak Grove.
WEST POINT — Oak Hill Academy girls basketball coach Stan Hughey didn’t like what he saw early in Monday night’s game against Heritage Academy. Hughey wasn’t pleased with the way his squad was playing on both ends of the floor, and he didn’t wait too long before delivering his message.
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