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Melton, Lofton, Collins want all-star basketball victories

CLINTON – Luke Lofton of West Lincoln, Jessica Melton of BogueChitto and Aiesha Collins of Hazlehurst are looking for victoriesin Thursday night’s Mississippi Sports Medicine All-Star Girls andBoys Basketball Games. Under the direction of the MississippiAssociation of Coaches, the games are set for A.E. Wood Coliseum onthe Mississippi College campus in Clinton.

The 39th annual girls game tips off at 6:30 p.m., followed bythe 49th annual boys game at 8. The South girls won last year’scontest 78-51, gaining a 19-19 series deadlock. The South boys beatthe North 97-94 last year, snapping the North’s 2-game winningstreak. The South boys lead the series 32-16.

Melton said she was looking forward to the all-star experience.”I can’t wait. I don’t know anybody. I’m looking forward to gettingto meet the players, especially those who will be playing forCo-Lin.”

All-Stars expected to join Melton on the Co-Lin squad this yearare Collins of Hazlehurst and Travelyn Smith of Jefferson County.Alfreda Craft of Hazlehurst and Wayne Fortenberry of Purvis arecoaching the South girls.

Asked about her summer activities, Melton said, “I’ve beenworking out a lot and practicing; shooting the ball a goodbit.”

Melton’s work ethic and hustling style of play have provided herwith a loyal following of fans. As a senior, she averaged 18.5points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 4.4 assists per game for theLady ‘Cats, leading them to a 22-3 record and the Division 7-1Achampionship.

Melton, a 5-7 guard, was named The DAILY LEADER’S Player of theYear and Miss Basketball on the 2002-03 All-Lincoln County GirlsTeam. Also a standout shortstop, she was Co-MVP on the DL’s 2003All-Area Fastpitch Softball Team

“Jessica plays with a passion for the game,” said former BogueChitto girls basketball coach Mickey Myers who retired fromcoaching. “She is well respected by her peers. She is a veryunselfish player. It doesn’t matter to her if she scores 10 pointsor 30, as long as she wins.”

After college, Melton is considering a career in either nursingor forensic science.

Collins, a 5-8 guard, averaged 13 points, 8 rebounds and 4.4assists per game for the Hazlehurst Lady Indians. She made 71percent of her free throws and was the DL’s All-Area Player of theYear.

“I know these girls can play real well,” said Collins. “Theyhave a good attitude. It’s nice to play for my mom one moretime.”

Collins said she plans to major in criminal justice atCo-Lin.

The South teams are headquartered at Hinds CommunityCollege.

Lofton, a powerful 6-3 forward, was a catalyst in West Lincoln’smarch to the Division 7-1A Tournament championship. He averaged20.3 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.6 steals and 3.2 assists per game asthe Bears finished 15-9 under first-year head coach Lane Young.

“We have a great team,” said Lofton. “The coaches have me at thethree guard. I like it. We want to beat the North.”

Lofton said he has been working out this summer. “I’ve beenspending a lot of time in the gym.”

Lofton said he was going to take basic courses in his first yearat Co-Lin before determining a long-range career goal.

Lofton and his South teammates went through a 9 p.m. practiceTuesday night. Coaching the South boys are Hilton Harrell of McComband Bill Ricks of Greene County.

“Luke is a really good athlete,” said Coach Young. “He gets lotsof rebounds and scores inside. He’s pretty quick and gets a lot ofsteals, too.”

Lofton has plenty of scoring range and doesn’t hesitate to shootthe trey. He also has signed with Co-Lin. He was named to the DL’sAll-Lincoln County Boys Basketball Team.

Representing McComb on the squad is standout guard D.J. Carr, a2-time selection to The DL’s All-Area Boys Basketball Team. Anotherplayer from District Seven is Dexter’s Torey Crumedy, a 5-8guard.