CARROLLTON, Ala. -- The bat is nearly as big as Kacy Noland. When you're 8 years old, it sometimes can be difficult to find a bat that is the right size. These days, that bat would look small in Noland's hands because the girl in the picture nestled in the glove on top of the table has grown up. A look to the left and to the right is all it takes to trace the maturation of Noland to a standout softball player at Pickens Academy and for the High Intensity travel ball team. Those pictures show a player who has grown to 5-foot-6 -- or taller depending on the shoes -- and grown to love a sport she first started playing in a Dixie Youth league in Aliceville, Alabama.
MACON -- Tyrone Shorter knows what he is talking about when he says the playoffs are the Noxubee County High School football team's time of the year. When your program has won four state championships in the last nine seasons, it's a lot easier for your players to re-focus for the one-and-done part of the campaign. In the last 10 seasons, Noxubee County is 78-7 in the last three months of the season. Noxubee County's success in October and November has resulted in back-to-back Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A State titles, as well as championships in 2012 and 2008.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School boys basketball coach Greg Carter has built a perennial state championship contender in large part due to rebounding and defensive tenacity. With a young squad, Carter and his staff will spend more time than usual teaching those virtues.
Anthony King is a mixture of emotions. The West Lowndes High School football coach is excited that playoff football is almost here. He is confident about the Panthers' talent and potential as he surveys his players in their kickoff coverage drill.
Black and gold are perfect colors for Thomas Stevens. Prior to Wednesday, the colors were solely dedicated to the New Hope High School uniforms Stevens wore as a member of the school's football and baseball teams. On Wednesday, though, the black and gold in the bow tie Stevens wore to school signaled a nod to the next step in his baseball career at Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville. Even though Stevens couldn't convince teammate Parker Lane, who signed with Mississippi Delta C.C. in Moorhead, to wear a bow tie or attend NEMCC with him, both players said they found the right fit.
Sean Harrison knows what is in store for the Heritage Academy football team. The Patriots' first-year head coach hasn't had to wear out the buttons on his laptop to go back and forward watching film of Indianola Academy games from this season. As much as Harrison would love to discover a secret to the Colonels' success, he knows there is a simple recipe for his team when it meets Indianola Academy at 7 p.m. Friday in the third round of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) Class AAA playoffs.
For the Columbus High School basketball team, every game matters.
Kiara Conner loves defense. The Columbus High School senior enjoys snaring pop ups and chasing down fly balls so much that she enjoys recording outs more than she does blasting home runs. That might seem hard to believe, especially after seeing how easily Conner can use a bat to make a softball disappear.
STEENS -- The waiting was killing Chris Webber. A first-place individual finish didn't quiet Webber's nerves. Seeing teammates Glenn Misiak and Nate Parker finish shortly after him made things a little easier, but Webber knew the Columbus Christian Academy boys cross country team needed two more runners to finish before the squad could win a second Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AA State title.
Hannah Britt couldn't get the thought out of her head: What if she never played soccer again? The thought danced around in her mind as she was airlifted to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Spasms in her back caused the Heritage Academy senior to lose sensation in her legs, which caused doctors to consider the possibility Britt might have an issue with her spinal cord.
Garrett Parish's soccer profile is growing. The Caledonia High School senior's play at midfielder and defender has helped him earn a reputation for being one of the area's most versatile players. Parish solidified that status in the summer when he was one of 68 players named to the Region III Boys 1999 Olympic Development Programs Trials Pool. Starkville High's Vance Dewberry also was named to the squad, which is made up of players from the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas (North and South). The players took part in a five-day camp in July in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
ALICEVILLE, Ala. -- The Aliceville High School football team picked up in the postseason Friday night where the regular season left off.
GREENWOOD -- Andy Crotwell would have organized one big hug if it was possible. But it's nearly impossible to get 28 people together in one space, even if they are all seniors. That's why the Caledonia High School football coach went from player to player to acknowledge the oldest players and to thank them for their contributions to the team's second trip to the playoffs in three years.
CLINTON -- The champs are out Behind the rushing attack of Akers and a key interception by Kam White with 1 minute, 48 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Clinton High School football team outlasted Starkville 35-28 Friday night to clinch the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A, Region 2 title at Arrow Field.
MACON -- While talking to his team Monday at practice, Noxubee County High School football coach Tyrone Shorter brought up South Panola. With 11 state championships, South Panola is considered one of the best high school football programs in the state of Mississippi. But South Panola didn't win a title last year.
Tyler Anderson isn't ready to hang out his cleats. The senior quarterback rushed for two touchdowns and threw for three more Friday night to lead the fourth-seeded Heritage Academy football team to a 44-14 victory against fifth-seeded Manchester Academy in the second round of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) Class AAA playoffs at C.L. Mitchell Field.
Two teams eliminated from the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A playoffs had one goal in mind Friday in their regular-season finale: to send their seniors off on a winning note. The New Hope High School football team accomplished its goal by taking advantage of four turnovers en route to a season-ending 37-13 victory against Saltillo in a Class 5A, Region 1 game.
The West Lowndes High School football team's offense resembles a playbook from Tecmo Bowl. The Panthers run roughly four plays to either side of the field to utilize their speed and to take advantage of misdirection. When West Lowndes executes, four plays is all it needs.
When the final seconds ticked off the clock at Falcon Field, several Columbus High School football coaches raised their fists in the air and several players poured onto the field to exchange hugs and high-fives. No championships were won Friday night. Instead, Columbus earned an invitation to the second season. For the second time in Randal Montgomery's three seasons as head coach, Columbus is headed to the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) playoffs thanks to a 60-47 victory against Hernando in a Class 6A, Region 1 game on Senior Night.
OLIVE BRANCH -- The West Point High School football team finished an undefeated run through Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A, Region 1 play Friday night with a 53-17 victory against Lewisburg.
1. MSU football player Mullins will transfer COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Green Wave end years of frustration, take eighth crown HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. No. 3 EMCC will try to close season with bowl win COLLEGE SPORTS
5. West Point's defense dominates in title effort HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS