Hurricane Katrina No. 1 villain in ’05

Published 6:00 am Thursday, December 29, 2005

It’s been a heckuva year. For sure, 2005 will be remembered formany years to come, mainly because of Hurricane Katrina which hitMississippi Aug. 29, and devastated the gulf coast.

Brookhaven certainly felt the wrath of the storm. Hurricane Ritafollowed a few weeks later and caused some damage in LincolnCounty, too.

Certainly, athletic events were affected by the storms.Schedules were turned upside down and games were either canceled orpostponed. Local football and softball teams suffered the mostinconvenience, but it paled in comparison to the completedevastation in the coastal counties of Jackson, Harrison andHancock Counties.

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Athletic facilities were literally washed away by thehurricane’s storm surge. St. Stanislaus, located in Long Beach,suffered the most damage and canceled its school year. Students andteachers were sent scrambling in search of another place to playsports, coach or teach.

So, besides Katrina, what was the top sports story of the yearon the local scene?

Scribes in The DAILY LEADER’s sports department agreed. Theunexpected, Cinderella story, authored by the Copiah-LincolnCommunity College baseball team, rates priority.

Not only did Coach Keith Case’s Wolfpack win the NJCAA Regionaltournament with a final round sweep of nationally-ranked PearlRiver, the Wolves climbed even higher. The won the Southeast SuperRegional in St. Catharine, Ky., authoring a 2-out, 9th-inning rallyto beat the host team in the finals.

Next stop was the NJCAA Division II World Series in Millington,Tenn. The Wolfpack (32-28-1) finished a remarkable fourth. Co-Linshortstop Patrick Williams and pitcher Ryan Belanger were named tothe World Series all-star team. Williams signed with Delta Stateand Belanger signed with Southern Miss.

Still on the subject of baseball, the Lawrence County Cougarsfashioned a 26-7 record under first-year head coach Cory Keyes andwon the Division 6-4A crown. In Lincoln County, Loyd Star was ateam of destiny, winning a fourth straight Division 6-2A title, ledby rookie head coach Jonathan Breakfield.

Also of note: Coach Randy Spring’s Ole Brook Panthers reboundedfrom a 2004 state championship and made the state playoffs in amassive rebuilding year. Coach Stephen Cooksey’s Brookhaven AcademyCougars also made the state baseball playoffs.

In fastpitch softball, West Lincoln’s Lady Bears made the mostnoise. Their coach, Andrew Redd, was named Coach of the Year.

The Co-Lin Lady Wolves amassed a school-record 27 wins under thedirection of Allen Kent and made the state softball playoffs. Inthe area, McComb Parklane Academy’s Lady Pioneers won the AAA statetitle last fall.

Tennis also had some highlights as Brookhaven Academy’s girlswon the AA state title. Ole Brook’s Panthers won another districttitle and advanced to the state tournament.

Another accomplishment was achieved by a group of area seniorwomen who won the USTA League state title for a second straightyear. They also advanced to the nationals in Palm Springs, Calif.,and finished runners-up.

Channelle McCrory of Wesson, playing for Co-Lin, captured thewomen’s No. 5 singles regional crown.

In golf, Dale Murphy Sykes of Monticello and Co-Lin advanced tothe national tournament and signed with Delta State.

Basketball was a big item in Lincoln County as the BrookhavenAcademy boys and girls won Class AA state tournament titles. It wasthe fourth straight state title for Coach Barry Gray’s LadyCougars.

West Lincoln’s Lady Bears, coached by Lane Young, reached theClass 1A state tournament semifinals. In Franklin County, CoachChris Jordan led his Bulldogs to the Class 3A state championshipgame.

The Co-Lin men were Region 23 Tournament semifinalists under thedirection of Dennis Sims.

In slowpitch softball, Bogue Chitto’s Lady ‘Cats advanced to thestate 1A finals for a second straight year after beating the WestLincoln Lady Bears in the South State finals. The Ole Brook LadyPanthers reached the second round of the 4A playoffs.

In football, the Ole Brook Panthers made the best of a majorrebuilding season after winning the state title in 2004. CoachTucker Peavey’s team finished 6-4, placing third in Region 6-4A andmaking the state playoffs.

The Enterprise Fighting Yellow Jackets reached the state 1Aplayoffs for the first time in three years.

In the area, Hazlehurst’s Indians were the Cinderella team,going 13-0 and winning the Class 3A state title. Copiah Academyalso did extremely well, as the Colonels won the District 3-AAcrown and advanced to the state championship game.

Ole Brook’s cheerleading squad captured the 4A state title thismonth. There was a lot to cheer about in 2005.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or