Young, Black, Byrd in Saturday’s all-star basketball game

Published 5:00 am Monday, July 16, 2007

This is an all-star week for West Lincoln basketball coach LaneYoung and Brookhaven standouts Swayze Black and Nikki Byrd. Thetrio will be part of the South girls squad in Saturday’sMississippi Association of Coaches All-Star Basketball Games atMississippi College in Clinton.

The girls game tips off at 1 p.m. in A.E. Wood Coliseum,followed by the boys at 3. The teams reported Thursday for physicalexams and a photo session before starting practice.

On tap tonight is an all-star autograph session starting at 6p.m. in A.E. Wood Coliseum. That will be followed by 3-pointshooting and slam-dunk contests. Special prizes for fans will begiven away between events.

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Young said he was looking forward to coaching the South girlsteam, composed of rising seniors. “It’s an honor to coach in it. Itshould be a fun experience for the coaches and the players.”

Young, 31, is a graduate of Wesson High School. He attendedCopiah-Lincoln community College for two years, then transferred toSouthern Miss where he graduated in 1999. He obtained a master’sdegree from William Carey College.

Asked about practice plans in such a compressed time span, Youngsaid, “You are very limited in your practice time. You want to tryand get them to get a feel of each other and put them on the samepage mentally. You have to give them a few different things to doon defense.”

Young said all-star rules restrict the type of defense teams mayemploy. “You have to play man-to-man defense but you can zone presson the full-court press.”

Chad Harrison of Scott Central is South girls co-coach and Younghas known him for a few years. “We have exchanged scouting reportson the 1A Coast teams.

“Chad does a lot of good stuff,” Young pointed out. “Theystrictly play man defense. That’s a strong point for both ofus.”

Due to the various camps and summer workouts, conditioningshouldn’t be a problem for the all-stars. “A bunch of them havebeen playing with their teams or with AAU this summer,” saidYoung.

Black and Byrd should give the South a strong inside game. “Bothare excellent players,” said Young. “Byrd is a very good postplayer. Swayze can step outside and shoot it, too.”

The 6-foot-2 Byrd averaged 18.3 points and 10.1 rebounds pergame as a junior, helping lead Brookhaven to the Division 6-4A andSouth Mississippi Tournament titles. The Lady Panthers finished32-6 and were Class 4A state tournament runners-up to IndianolaGentry.

Black (6-1) has the athletic ability to play on the perimeter,too. She averaged 15.5 points and 9.6 rebounds last season.

Black and Byrd were selected The DAILY LEADER’s Co-Most ValuablePlayers on the All-Lincoln County Girls Basketball Team.

According to Ole Brook coach Freda Craft, Black has made largestrides this summer. “Swayze has been having a good summer. She hasimproved her skills and what we want her to do. Her shot selectionis much better.

“Swayze is more focused on blocking shots,” Craft continued.”Her rebounding is getting better. She has floor awareness. Sheknows how to manage the clock.”

Byrd has been slowed by a nagging back ailment, according toCraft. “Nikki hasn’t done anything with us because of herback.”

Craft said both players already have qualified for NCAA DivisionI scholarships. They have not made a verbal commitment. Both girlsare A and B students.

It’s been a busy offseason for Craft’s team. The Lady Pantherswent to Co-Lin, Southern Miss and Jackson Academy basketball campsthis summer. “We saw some pretty good competition,” said Craft.

Earlier this summer, Young was involved with basketball campsfor 17 straight days, May 31 through June 16. It included two teamcamps and a fundamental camp at Copiah-Lincoln Community Collegewhere his father, Gwyn Young, serves as athletic director andwomen’s basketball coach.

All-Star Roster

Byrd and Black are joined on the South squad by 5-7 BrittanyBohannon of Kemper County, 5-7 Rasheda Catchings of Forest Hill,5-7 Danielle Cole and 5-6 Tiara Logan of Philadelphia, 5-11 AmberFields of Biloxi, 5-11 Martika Ivy and 5-0 Lucy Ruffin of SoutheastLauderdale, 6-3 Chantel Hilliard of St. Martin, 6-1 Kayla Martin ofRaymond, and 5-9 Ka’Neshia Smith of Pisgah.

The North, coached by Shayne Linzy of Water Valley and JackieSuggett of Madison Central, is led by 6-foot standout April Sykesof East Oktibbeha and 6-0 LaSondra Barrett of Jackson Murrah.

“I’ve heard Sykes is ranked No. 2 in the nation,” said Young.”Barrett from Murrah is among the top 25 players in thenation.”