BHS showcase in Sinclair gym

Published 6:00 am Friday, January 18, 2008

There are Rumbles, Showcases, Classics and Extravaganzas. Theyare also known as one-day basketball tournaments, featuring severaloutstanding players and a few outstanding teams.

Brookhaven High School will showcase its Classic this Saturdayin Sinclair Gymnasium. There will be seven high school games, plusa preliminary junior varsity game to start the day at 10:30a.m.

Basketball fans will get an eyeful of good basketball talent andan earful of noise if they enjoy rap music during the intermissionperiod. The 7-game varsity menu starts at 11:30 a.m., with theProvine and Hattiesburg girls.

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What follows will be four straight boys games, featuring Provineversus Brandon at 1 p.m., Hazlehurst vs. Lawrence County at 2:30,Clinton vs. Hattiesburg at 4, and Starkville vs. Callaway at5:30.

Host Brookhaven plays the final pair of games as the LadyPanthers meet Murrah at 7 and the Panthers play the Mustangs at8:30.

According to BHS boys coach Ronald Hines, the Classic willshowcase lots of basketball talent. He has contacted numerouscollege coaches, telling them to mark Jan. 19 on theircalendars.

“This is the best Classic to see,” predicted Hines. “There willbe a number of players who are listed as the top players inMississippi in this one-day event.”

Hines rattled off the names of Starkville’s Latavious Williams,Callaway’s Laquinton Ross, Hattiesburg’s Tray Martin, Clinton’sVincenzo Nelson, Hazlehurst’s Fred Fuller, Murrah’s DondreousNelson, Provine’s Scottie Haralson, Brandon’s Tyler Adams andBrookhaven’s own Charles (Bobo) Rancifer.

On the girls’ side, it’s a grand stage for Brookhaven’s SwayzeBlack and Nikki Byrd who have signed SEC scholarships with LSU andOle Miss respectively. LaSondra Barrett of Murrah leads the LadyMustangs who are ranked No. 3 nationally in the USA TODAY poll.

If you like basketball polls, the Murrah girls (18-0) andStarkville boys (18-0) are both ranked No. 1 in Mississippi.

Hines continued to anoint his tournament as the top attraction.”I think we have the best one in the state. We have the No. 1 teamsin the state. Three of the girls teams are rated among the top15.”

Sounds exciting. Admission is $5.

Meanwhile, at Mississippi College in Clinton, the Rumble in theSouth will be held Monday, Jan. 21, in conjunction with MartinLuther King Jr. Day, recognized as a national holiday. Certainlythere are some unique matches as private school powers comparebasketball skills with public school dynamos.

In the 11 a.m. opener, Jackson Academy plays Piney Woods andMadison-Ridgeland Academy faces the Hinds AHS boys at 2:30 p.m. inanother public/private contest.

Hinds AHS (19-0) rules Class 2A and MRA (21-4) is a super teamin the Mississippi Private School Association.

In other Rumble boys games, Ridgeland plays West Lauderdale at12:45 p.m., followed by Meridian vs. Ruston, La. at 4:15, NortheastLauderdale vs. St. Jude, Ala., at 6 and Callaway vs. Carroll, La.,at 7;45.

Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for students.

Division/district basketball tournaments are less than a monthaway. Coaches are carefully counting division wins as the seasonwinds down.

West Lincoln’s boys are the cream of the crop in Division 8-1Aand Natchez Cathedral appears to be a close second. The WestLincoln and Bogue Chitto girls are the main contenders in thefemale division.

According to one local coach, Division 8-1A is the weakest ithas been in several years. The addition of Sacred Heart(Hattiesburg) and Resurrection Catholic (Pascagoula) have furtherdiluted the level of competition. In their defense, Sacred Heartand Resurrection are both playing varsity basketball for the firsttime and the lack of experience is evident by the lopsidedscores.

It boggles the mind when you pause and consider the length oftravel time to the southeast corner of the Magnolia State. It’s a4-hour haul to Pascagoula from Lincoln County and another hour ifyou happen to play for Cathedral.

Bogue Chitto had to travel to Resurrection Tuesday night for avarsity doubleheader. Players and coaches arrived home well aftermidnight. Wednesday was a school day, too.

Local coaches agree that a weak division is not the best way toprepare their teams for the stressful demands of the stateplayoffs. In other words, they need tougher competition.

Pity impoverished, Class 1A Dexter. The basketball teams haven’thad a gymnasium to practice in since Aug. 29 of 2005 when HurricaneKatrina blew it away. All the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs have is aconcrete slab and a couple of outdoor goals. Obviously, practicewas canceled Wednesday due to rain.

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