Mr. Basketball

Published 5:00 am Monday, March 30, 2009

Blaine Roberts of Brookhaven Academy was willing to make someadjustments for his senior campaign. He changed from a primaryshooting star to a versatile, all-around team player.

His point production plummeted but the Cougars began growingstronger as a team as the season progressed. That team concepthelped them capture a fifth consecutive MPSA Class AA StateBasketball Tournament for Brookhaven Academy and Coach DaleWatts.

For his performance, the 6-foot-2 Roberts has been selected Mr.Basketball and Most Valuable Player on The DAILY LEADER’s 2009All-Lincoln County Boys Basketball Team. He averaged 11.9 pointsand 4.1 rebounds per game as the Cougars finished 30-10. He alsohad 149 assists and 58 steals.

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Also named to the DL’s Dream Team were Marcus McGee ofBrookhaven, Ashton Fox and Glenn Thomas of Loyd Star, Aaron Collinsof West Lincoln and Jake Reed of Brookhaven Academy and AustinEverett of Enterprise.

The Dream Team was selected by members of the DL sports staff,with input provided by area high school and community collegecoaches.

Watts has had Roberts on the varsity for three years andrecognizes his value to the team. “Blaine has always been anexcellent perimeter shooter.

This year what stands out the most is that he stepped up hisgame in other areas. His stats might have gone down some because ofthe adjustment.

“We moved him from shooting guard to point guard because wewanted the ball in his hands,” Watts added. “He was willing tosacrifice and that speaks well of him.”

The Cougars advanced to the quarterfinals of the MPSA OverallTournament before losing to Jackson Academy. Roberts was limited inhis shooting due to a fractured bone in his left, non-shootinghand. For games the hand was wrapped tightly with gauze andtape.

The injury happened at the end of the regular season in a gameat Copiah Academy. Roberts crashed to the floor and onlookersfeared a concussion.

“I knew Blaine took a hard fall against Copiah,” said Watts. “Iknew he was hurt but I was worried more about his head because hetook a hard lick.”

Roberts was examined by doctors and x-rays revealed the fracturein his hand. He still wanted to play basketball as the Cougarsentered the state playoffs.

“Blaine played with that injury during the whole playoffs,” saidWatts. “I think he re-injured it in the state championship gamewhen he took a couple of falls. He showed a lot of courage.”

Roberts is an all-around athlete, competing in track andbasketball. “He has great jumping ability and he’s a smart guy,”said Watts. “He made a 30 on his ACT.”

Roberts considered John R. Gray Gymnasium as his second home. Hespent countless hours honing his shooting skills.

“We talk about gym rats,” said Watts. “His grandfather wouldcome and get the keys to gain access to the gymnasium. He wouldmeet Blaine at the gym, because an adult had to be present. Theyspent countless hours there.”

Roberts had surgery on his hand the Monday after the MPSAall-star game. He wants to play basketball in college, either atCo-Lin or Southwest.

Asked about the injury, Roberts said, “The scathoid bone in myleft hand that leads to my thumb.”

Reflecting on the Cougars’ 30-10 record and fifth consecutivestate title, Roberts said, “Our whole team worked together and dida good job. Any time we needed somebody to do something, they wouldstep up.”

Roberts said he enjoyed the all-star game and had funassociating with the other all-stars.

Asked bout a future career, Roberts said, “I haven’t decidedwhich one yet. I’m thinking about becoming ananesthesiologist.”

He said he doesn’t have any favorite player in college or theNBA, but, “My whole family is Ole Miss people.”

Playing for Watts requires dedication and devotion tobasketball. Roberts said, “Coach Watts was tough but he taught me alot. He stressed defense in practice. We would practice without aball and just work on basic fundamentals. He would point adirection and we would just push-step.”

He said BA’s state title was special. “This state championshipwas the best for me because it was my senior year.”

An all-around athlete, Roberts is a member of BA’ track team. Hecompetes in the high jump, long jump and triple jump.

Aaron Collins, a 6-2 senior guard, averaged 12.9 points, 4.5rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game for Coach LaneYoung’s West Lincoln Bears who finished 19-11 and were runners-upin the Division 8-1A Tournament.

“Aaron is as good a one-on-one player as I’ve had,” said Young.”He handles the ball well and he has long arms. He shot the ballpretty good for us this year.”

Marcus McGee, a 6-5 junior guard, averaged 9.1 points, 4.5rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.6 rebounds per game for the BrookhavenPanthers who finished 12-16 and advanced to the Class 4A stateplayoffs.

BHS coach Ronald Hinds says, “Marcus has good size and he’saggressive and can move well. He’s a 6-foot-5 guard who can handlethe basketball.”

Ashton Fox, averaged 20.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.5steals per game for the Hornets as they posted a 25-4 record,advancing to the Class 2A state playoffs. They finished runners-upto Hinds AHS in the Division 6-2A Tournament.

Loyd Star coach Gene Britt says, “Ashton is an excellentball-handler. He can penetrate or step back and shoot the threes.He’s very quick and has good hands.”

Austin Everett, a 6-6 junior center, averaged 11 points, 7.3rebounds and 2 blocked shots for the Yellow Jackets.

Enterprise first-year coach John Knight says, “Austin hasimproved and become more than just a scorer. He has a good workethic and he’s a smart kid.”

Glenn Thomas, a 6-1 junior guard, averaged 15.5 points, 5.3rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals per game for the Hornets who gotoff to a 20-0 start this season.

“Glenn is a hard-nosed player who really drives to the goal,”said Coach Britt. “He can leap and rebound, too.”

Jake Reed, a versatile 6-3 junior guard who can crash thebackboards, averaged 12.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists pergame for the Cougars.

Coach Watts says, “Jake became our go-to player. He’s a veryversatile kid. We have played him everywhere from point guard tothe post.”

“Jake can play the game,” Watts pointed out. “When we had tohave two points, we would try to find a way to get him in position.He had a lot of games with double-doubles.”


Bogue Chitto: Justin London, Javier Gee, Seth Avants.

Brookhaven: Rajavian Stewart, Fred Fairman, Chad Hall,Donaldmetric Blue.

Brookhaven Academy: Josh Winborne, Jamison Powell, JeremyFoster, Sidney Chaffin.

Enterprise: Kevin Perry, Russell Perry, Jamie Smith.

Loyd Star: DeAndre Butler, McKinley Hamilton, Joseph Shelby.

West Lincoln: Micah Bivens, Jeremie Richardson, BrettRushing.