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Franklin Co. girls last area team in state tournament

With the exception of the Franklin County girls, area highschool basketball has come to a weary conclusion. TheMeadville-based Lady Bulldogs battle powerhouse SoutheastLauderdale Friday for the Class 3A State Tournament championship inJackson’s Mississippi Coliseum.

The Lady Bulldogs (26-10), coached by veteran Charles Moore, area solid team. They play hard and they play together. We wish themwell.

Franklin County is bent on avenging a lopsided loss to SoutheastLauderdale (36-1). The Lady Bulldogs are led by Paige Webster,Monea Cameron, Shreka Hunt, Charlesia Houston and MoniqueStarks.

It’s been a long season. Action tipped off in early November,just as the state football playoffs got under way. Since that time,area teams have been going non-stop. They began falling by thewayside during the state playoffs.

Advice to Franklin County fans. Make sure you take your walletwith you. Tickets are $10 each. Toddlers 18 months or older mustpay $10 bucks, too. On the bright side, there is no charge forparking.

One irate Brookhaven fan called me last week to vent hisfrustrations. He thought the $10 admission charge was outrageous.The fan was married and had two children. That’s $40 to see theLady Panthers.

We told him the admission price allowed him to stay and watchmore than one game.

“All I care about is watching Brookhaven,” said the disgruntledfan.

He also was unhappy with the high prices at the concessionstand. Fortunately, there are a large number of fast-foodrestaurants located on nearby High Street. Tell your wife to put acanned drink in her purse and a couple packs of peanut buttercrackers, plus some candy.

Your family will survive.

Naturally, the Mississippi High School Activities Associationsays the admission fee is necessary. It covers rental cost of theColiseum and other expenses, including the three officials for eachgame, plus public address announcers, clock operators and officialscorekeepers who are required for each game. Add security officersand throw in the maintenance crew. Most of the cost isexplainable.

However, this column would like to see the MHSAA offer pregameticket sales at each school making the state tournament. Allow aportion of the ticket price to go directly to the school. Follow asimilar format followed by schools with football teams in the stateplayoffs.

Send the tickets out during the North and South Mississippiplayoffs which come a week prior to the state tournament. If a teamdoesn’t make it to the Big House, return the tickets to the MHSAAoffice.

While we are fixing the situation, why not offer a half-priceticket to students who have a team participating in the statetournament. The general idea is to fill the Coliseum to capacity.When you pause and consider the high price of gasoline, the travelcost becomes prohibitive for many fans who live two to three hoursor more away from Jackson.

Of course, car pooling and charter buses can solve some of thetransportation cost. Others listen to the games on the radio orread their newspaper the next day.

At first, the Brookhaven Lady Panthers weren’t going to be onthe radio. The MHSAA charges $350 per game. Three games equals$1,050 to put a team on the airways.

Radio stations also voiced their complaints.

However, BHS athletic director Tucker Peavey heard about theno-radio decision and made a few telephone calls. The funds wereproduced to put the Lady Panthers’ games on the radio.

For sure, the Lady Panthers had a great season, reaching theClass 4A semifinals. They lost to Indianola Gentry in overtime.Ugh. It was the third straight year for the hustling, cat-quickGentry team to boot BHS from the tournament. Indianola is currentlyriding a 77-game victory streak.

No doubt, BHS will miss the Twin Towers, a.k.a. 6-foot-3 SwayzeBlack and 6-2 Nikki Byrd, plus 6-footer Whitley Shannon. Black andByrd are both SEC signees, going to LSU and Ole Missrespectively.

Obviously, Coach Freda Craft faces a major rebuilding chore atBHS. She has some solid players returning but no 6-footers.

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