Lofton, Chocs aim high in ASC tourney

Published 6:00 am Thursday, February 23, 2006

Coach Don Lofton and the Mississippi College Choctaws areenjoying another banner campaign under his tutelage. The Choctawsfinished regular season play 24-1 and are 21-1 in the AmericanSouthwest Conference.

The 11th-ranked Choctaws beat Texas-Tyler Saturday for their19th straight win. The Chocs were led in scoring by sophomore TylerWinford and junior Jaszmine Eugene who each finished with 13points. Senior Orlando Lewis and junior D. J. Jones added 11 and 10points, respectively.

Lofton’s Chocs pursue another goal this weekend when theyparticipate in the ASC men’s tournament at Howard Payne University.They’ll face Sul Ross State Friday at 12 noon in a quarterfinalsgame.

Howard Payne, based in Brownwood, Texas, is the tournament’sWest Division champion and the top seed. Last year MC was runner-upto Texas-Dallas, falling in the championship game.

The Chocs, No. 1 in the ASC East, should receive a bid to theNCAA Division III Tournament no matter what happens thisweekend.

Lofton, a Brookhaven native, has enjoyed a successful coachingcareer since replacing Mike Jones at the helm. He is averaging over20 wins per season. Jones assumed full-time athletic directorduties five years ago.

Lofton and his wife Madelyn have three children: Davis, age 16;Jay, 14 and Elizabeth, 8.

Jones, a New Hebron High School grad, led the Golden Bears tothe Class B-BB state championship game in 1971. He later played forM.K. Turk at Copiah-Lincoln Community College and continued hiscareer at MC.

My wife, Laurie, and I encountered Jones Tuesday night in MC’sA.E. Wood Coliseum, also known as the Golden Dome. He was busygreeting old acquaintances from the Lincoln County area who hadmade the drive to Clinton for Brookhaven Academy’s basketball gameagainst Jackson Prep.

Jones said his wife, Jane, and their family are doing great.Certainly, he’s an asset to MC. He coached four years at Co-Linfrom 1984-88 and reached the NJCAA Division I National Tournamenttwice in Hutchinson, Kan. His ’88 team placed seventh in the16-team field.

MC’s Lady Choctaws are looking for better results in thisweekend’s ASC Women’s Tournament at the Golden Dome. They absorbedtheir fourth straight loss last Saturday, falling to the Universityof Texas at Tyler

Despite the loss, the Lady Chocs have a share of the ASC EastDivision title, sharing the top rung with Texas-Tyler.

MC women’s coach Paul Allen Duke has watched his team limpthrough the regular season, beset by injuries to key personnel.Lacey Palomarez Kennedy, a former star for Enterprise-Lincoln,sustained a wrist injury on her shooting hand, forcing her to missfour games.

The Lady Chocs (19-5, 17-5) have lost four of their last sixgames. Texas-Tyler (17-8, 17-5) is the top seed for thetournament.

Kennedy, a 5-foot-10 forward, is a former ASC Player of theYear. She is averaging 14.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Afterher marriage to former Bogue Chitto basketball coach Jason Kennedy,she took a year off from basketball to have a child. Her husband iscoaching at Raleigh this season so they have a busy lifestyle,especially during the basketball campaign.

“It’s been an up and down season for us,” said Duke. “We startedthe season real strong but those injuries threw us off. Hopefully,we can put it together for the tournament.”

Former Co-Lin guard Gloria Lewis of Natchez is playing well atMC. She’s averaging 5.8 ppg. Dukes has 5 players averaging indouble figures.

There are some Lincoln County connections on MC’s baseball team.Former Loyd Star and Co-Lin second baseman Jody Britt is a juniorat MC. Jeffery Waycaster, former Brookhaven Academy and Co-Linstandout, is playing the outfield his senior year.

On the mound, Cole Zumbro, a big right-hander (6-3, 250), is asenior from McCall Creek. Head coach for the Chocs is LeeKuyrkendall.

MC makes the long drive to Austin, Texas for its next action.The Chocs meet Concordia in a doubleheader, starting at noon.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602, or e-mailsports@dailyleader.com