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State titles are ’09 highlights

Streaks and state championships went together like ham and eggsduring 2009. On the local sports scene, Brookhaven Academy set thehigh standard, winning state championships in basketball andfootball.

For the record, BA’s boys basketball team registered anunprecedented fifth consecutive Class AA State Tournament title.Coach Dale Watts saw his team win that fifth title the hard way,too. They were a disappointing fourth in South State but managed toregroup and catch fire in the state tournament, winning threestraight games in John R. Gray Gymnasium. The Cougars finished30-10 and proudly held up five fingers when they posed with theirstate championship trophy.

Another unprecedented run took place during the football seasonand BA was in the spotlight again. The Cougars finished unbeaten in15 games and defeated Lamar School 63-28 in the AA statechampionship.

For BA head coach Herbert Davis, it was his second state titleat his alma mater. In 1993, he had coached the Cougars to a statechampionship.

Speaking of state championships, Coach Jan Delaughter’s LoydStar Lady Hornets achieved statewide recognition in girls fastpitchsoftball last May, winning the Class 2A championship. Theycompleted their campaign 30-1-1 and junior pitcher BrookeDelaughter posted a 29-1 worksheet.

Basketball had its ups and downs last winter. Loyd Star’s boysgot off to an impressive 20-0 start before losing to Hinds AHS, theeventual 2A state champion.

Overall, high school basketball was way down in the talent levelas evidenced by the scarcity of scholarship players. Blaine Robertsof Brookhaven Academy and Josh Hood of Wesson were the only areaplayers to sign scholarships with Copiah-Lincoln CommunityCollege.

As usual, Co-Lin made a strong run through the South Division.The Wolves and Lady Wolves both fell to Jones County Junior Collegein the state tournament finals at Ellisville.

The Lady Wolves, coached by Gwyn Young, rebounded and finishedrunners-up to East Mississippi in the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament atMississippi College. They were one win shy of advancing to theNational Tournament in Salina, Kan.

BHS senior Katy Hoover made history by becoming the first localsenior to sign an SEC soccer scholarship, plotting her future withMississippi State University.

In the spring, Brookhaven Academy set the standard in tennis asCoach David Misner’s Cougars and Lady Cougars captured AA statechampionships. The Ole Brook Panthers, coached by Terri Hall, wererunners-up to Oxford in the MHSAA Class 4A team championship.

High school baseball had a few bright spots. Copiah Academy wasstate runner-up to Clarksdale Lee in the Class AA playoffs. LoydStar achieved the third round of the Class 2A state playoffs.

Reclassification, under the direction of the Mississippi HighSchool Activities Association, took on a new look as Class 6A wasadded to the mix. Class 6A replaced Class 5A as the highestenrollment group and featured the 32 largest schools in thestate.

Brookhaven, McComb and Forest Hill were among the former Region6-4A schools that graduated to 5A. New regional alignments struck amajor blow to athletic schedules and budgets. BHS tackled newregion foes Wayne County, West Jones, Picayune, Stone County andPearl River Central in football.

Travel expenses and gate receipts were greatly affected by thechange in region foes. Unusually rainy weather on Friday nightsalso hurt attendance, especially against traditional rivalMcComb.

To their credit, Coach Tucker Peavey’s Panthers achieved thestate playoffs as the No. 4 seed after several years of dominationin the old Region 6-4A. A thrilling, triple-overtime win at StoneCounty, followed by a victory over McComb, secured the playoffberth.

A highlight of the 2009 season was a clash of unbeatens.Archrivals Wesson and Loyd Star met midway through the campaign. Itdrew a record Thursday night crowd, estimated at 4,000-plus, toCopiah-Lincoln Community College’s Stone Stadium.

Loyd Star, coached by Ryan Ross, defeated Wesson in overtime andfinished runner-up to powerhouse Puckett in the region race. TheHornets finished 10-2 and reached the second round of the stateplayoffs, losing to Bassfield, the eventual state champion.

Slowpitch softball remained a popular item in this part ofsouthwest Mississippi. West Lincoln’s Lady Bears, coached by AndrewRedd, were Class 1A state runners-up for a second straightyear.

Ole Brook, coached by Lisa Covington, enjoyed a Cinderellaseason after a disastrous 0-11 start. Her young team caught fireand advanced to the Class 5A state championship series beforelosing to New Hope.

Overall, it was a good year for area athletics, athletes andfans.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O. BOX551, Brookhaven, MS 339602 or e-mail sports@dailyleader.com