STARKVILLE -- Ade Amusa has been a big part of the Starkville Academy boys basketball team's success this season. But it hasn't been easy for the senior. Starkville Academy coach Bruce Allsup challenged Amusa after last season to work on his game in the offseason and be ready to take on a bigger role when the 2015-16 season started. Amusa took Allsup's advice and worked every day to improve. Amusa's work has paid off. It showed last week, when he scored 44 points in three games, including 21 in a victory against Heritage Academy in Columbus. For his efforts, Amusa is The Dispatch's Prep Player of the Week.
The Columbus High School soccer teams will try to build on a history-making season tonight. Buoyed by second-place finishes in Class 6A, Region 2, District 2, the Columbus High girls and boys will take on Clinton in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A playoffs in a doubleheader that is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. It is the first season in a number of years that the Columbus girls (7-10, 4-2 district) and the Columbus boys (3-9-3, 2-4) have qualified for the playoffs in the same season.
During a successful basketball career at Ridgeland High School and West Point High School, senior point guard A.J. McFarland has always believed in playing one game at a time.
Playing form behind is nothing new for West Point boys' basketball coach Brad Cox and his team.
STARKVILLE -- Andy Kennedy needed role players to step up in big ways.
STARKVILLE -- Milton Smith, Jr. is trying to make a name for himself.
STARKVILLE -- Luke Templeton always has dreamed about playing baseball in college. On Wednesday, the Starkville Academy pitcher made that dream a reality when he signed a National Letter of Intent with East Mississippi Community College. Templeton and Starkville Academy will open their season Feb. 16 against Lamar School at Meridian C.C.
CALEDONIA -- Cassie Obman has attended enough college signings to know how she wanted hers to look. But if you have watched Obman play softball, you know her signing ceremony wasn't going to be thrown together at the last minute. That's because Obman is a perfectionist. She doesn't hesitate to use the word "perfect" when she talks about the development of her skills as a catcher. All it takes is one Caledonia High School game for you to understand Obman has invested countless hours learning how to be the best defensive catcher she can be.
WEST POINT -- Ken Dill has matured as a basketball player. After missing the first eight games of the season due to an ankle injury he suffered playing football, the Oak Hill Academy point guard's maturity has helped him be everything and more for coach Brian Middleton this season. Dill showed his understanding of the game and his role Tuesday night to help Oak Hill Academy beat No. 4 Columbus Christian Academy 57-51 Tuesday night in a Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AA, District 2 game.
Two coaches took different approaches in an attempt to find the same ingredient Tuesday night. In the first game, Starkville Academy girls basketball coach Glenn Schmidt opted not to raise her voice when she talked to her team after Heritage Academy built an 11-point halftime lead. Instead, Schmidt decided to do something atypical -- she sat down. She then laid out her plan of attack. In the nightcap, Starkville Academy boys basketball coach Bruce Allsup invoked a higher power in a spirited halftime speech after he watched Heritage Academy outhustle his team and take a 10-point advantage into intermission. The different approaches delivered the same result.
STARKVILLE -- Cross country demands consistency. Ever since Kate Mattox started competing with the Starkville High School team as a seventh-grader, she has been nothing but steady. The amount of time Mattox dedicates to training every week has been consistent and has been designed to help her compete at a high level.
PHEBA -- Hard work.
Face-planting typically isn't a way to make an impression with a college coach.
Kaitlyn Oswalt knows she can't rely on one pitch in the circle.
STARKVILLE -- Bruce Allsup hasn't worried about his team's courage this season.
MACON -- Caledonia High School senior Coby Coleman likes his team's chances when the defensive switch is thrown.
WEST POINT -- West Point High School boys basketball coach Brad Cox knew little about A.J. McFarland's ability to fit in with his basketball team when he arrived on the school's campus in August. McFarland's father had played at West Point and his family still had ties to the area. However, finding a fit for the 5-foot-10 senior point guard was going to be a work in progress for the transfer from Ridgeland High. Turns out, McFarland has grabbed the leadership role and the Green Wave have followed quite nicely.
STARKVILLE -- Emily Woomer knew what she wanted to do at an early age. The Starkville High School track and field athlete enjoyed competing in track events when she started in fifth grade. At that point, she made up her mind she wanted to compete in track and field at the NCAA Division I level.
Brooke Younger doesn't know if she was in denial. It's not that the New Hope High School senior had lost her love for soccer. Far from it. It's just that Younger wasn't sure if she was good enough or if any college coaches would be interested in giving her a shot to play soccer at the next level. Instead of fretting about it, Younger thought her next step was going to take her to East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, where she would concentrate on her studies.
Cameron Douglas didn't want to settle. The Columbus High School senior also wasn't going to put his head down and take another loss, especially to archrival Starkville High, so as he listened to coach Luther Riley on Monday night before taking the court, Douglas promised himself he was going to play with more intensity and make an impact.