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Catching up with local sports scene

Trying to catch up with the local sports scene and trying totake care of domestic duties which fell far behind schedule after aweek in Salina, Kan., can be difficult. Add a severe case of buslag to the scenario and you find a weary sports editor. What day isit?

On the bright side, the spring blossoms in Mississippi arebeautiful. Bees are buzzing and the humming birds are humming. Mydear wife of 37 years, Laurie, received a good report after undergoing a heart catherization Wednesday at Baptist Hospital inJackson. Thank God, all valves and arteries are clear.

Laurie wisely stayed at home while we traveled with theCopiah-Lincoln Community College women’s basketball team to theNJCAA National Basketball Tournament in Salina. Besides, our twodogs, Benton and Dixie, and a granddaughter’s horse, named Rebel,had to be fed and watered on a daily basis.

Back to basketball. Certainly, this writer is proud of the Co-LinLady Wolves and what they accomplished. Fighting an uphillstruggle, they finished sixth in the national tourney. Theydefeated taller and more talented teams with hustle, heart,quickness and defense. Their coach, Gwyn Young, also outcoachedsome of his counterparts.

This was Young’s fifth team in the nationals and the first since2002. We were happy to see the 30-year coaching veteran notch twohard-fought wins.

What’s next is a major rebuilding project at Co-Lin. Young mustreplace 6 of his top 8 players. Five sophomore starters: guardsNikki Williams and Hanna Porter, forwards Whitney Scott andDominique Whitfield; and center Erica Trahan must be replaced.

Two top reserves will return in forward Alisha Mason and centerKristin Ellis.

Co-Lin held a basketball tryout camp Tuesday in Mullen Gymnasium.To say the least, the high school senior talent in Co-Lin’srecruiting district is scarce. There are several outstandingjuniors in Copiah, Lincoln, Franklin, Lawrence, Adams, Jeffersonand Simpson Counties. But that’s next year.

Young will have three out-of-state scholarships available.Williams, Trahan and Scott all played high school ball inLouisiana. He probably will sign some players from the talent-richJackson area that Hinds Community College hasn’t protected.

According to the Mississippi Association of Community/JuniorColleges, each member school can protect 5 basketball players inits district. The rest are up for grabs.

Besides recruiting against MACJC rivals, Co-Lin must also deal without-of-state schools. These out-of-state schools have largerrecruiting budgets and no restrictions on recruiting. They canoffer more money and tuition benefits, too.

According to Co-Lin men’s coach Dennis Sims, Chipola, Fla. willcover the cost of tuition, plus a player’s textbooks. He said eachplayer is fed twice a day in the school’s cafeteria. Each playeralso receives $50 a week for breakfast expenses.

Many college students don’t bother eating breakfast. A gallon ofmilk and box of cereal will satisfy their early morningappetite.

Looking back at the NJCAA’s National Tournament, most of the teamsboasted an international lineup. Co-Lin encountered three talentedplayers from Africa when the Lady Wolves played No. 1-rankedSoutheastern Illinois in the quarterfinals.

Browsing the rosters of the 16 teams in the national tourney lastweek, you will find players from Brazil, Latvia, Australia, Israel,Poland, Mozambique, Senegal, and Canada. None of them are fromBogue Chitto. Most of them are 6-foot-1 and taller.

Odessa, Texas won the women’s championship by defeating CentralArizona in the finals. Odessa claimed an outstanding player inJuanita Ward of Jackson Callaway. Ward, who scored 20 points in herteam’s 70-53 victory over Central Arizona, has signed withSyracuse.

In the NJCAA men’s championship tourney at Hutchinson, Kan. lastSaturday, Midland, Texas, whipped Chipola 94-75 in the title game.Chipola doesn’t have a football program. That means the schoolsaves around $500,000 a year. That revenue can be channeled towardthe school’s basketball, softball and baseball programs.

Co-Lin plays baseball, softball and golf in Division II whichprovides fewer scholarships and benefits for the players. Footballand basketball are Division I. Of course, there are advantages anddisadvantages at each level.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39601 or e-mailsports@dailyleader.com