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Loyd Star’s success restores memories

Levels of nostalgia are rising as Loyd Star prepares for Fridaynight’s Class 2A State Basketball Tournament appearance in theMississippi Coliseum. It’s been 42 years since the Hornets lastplayed in the Jackson facility.

In fact, current Loyd Star coach Gene (Moochie) Britt played andstarred on that 1968 Loyd Star team that won the Class BB statetitle. Forty-some years ago, teams had to win their statechampionships at various locations around the Magnolia State beforeadvancing to the Overall Tournament that featured four classchampions in the Mississippi Coliseum.

In 1968, the Hornets played the state championship game atStarkville. Back in those days, you either held the statetournament at a large high school gymnasium or a junior collegefacility.

The Hornets defeated Myrtle 67-65 in overtime for the BB title,setting off a major celebration back in Lincoln County In theOverall, they lost to Class B New Site. Brandon (A) and Tupelo (AA)battled on the other side of the boys bracket.

For sure, Britt was an outstanding athlete on an exceptional teamin 1968. He’s still strong and tall.

Asked about that ’68 starting lineup, Britt easily ticked off thenames of Johnny Vaughn at forward, Robert Earl Case at center,Steve Britt at point guard and Stanley Calcote at guard.

“We were a big team,” said Britt. ” We had three 6-4s in Vaughn,Case and myself.”

Directing them was the fiery Wayne Sasser who coached the Hornetsback then.

New Mississippi State University coach Joe Dan Gold signed Britt in1968. Then he transferred to Co-Lin and played one year for M.K.Turk. Along came Lu Henson who was coaching New Mexico State.

Britt then transferred to Livingston, now known as West Alabama,where he obtained his college degree.

Another basketball memory. In 1963, state champion Loyd Star playedBoonville in the Overall at the sparkling new coliseum. Britt saidthey were possibly the first high school teams to play there. BabeMcCarthy was coaching at Mississippi State back then.

Speaking of memories, the Presley Twins, Dan and Don, played onsome outstanding Loyd Star teams in the early 1970s. Those Hornetsfell just short of winning state championships in the BrookhavenHigh School Gymnasium. The Presleys are 1972 Loyd Star graduateswho excelled in basketball and baseball.

Completed in 1965, the BHS gym was recognized around the state asone of the finest facilities available. The late BHS principal W.L.Roach was a member of the MHSAA executive committee at that timeand was instrumental in bringing several state tournaments toBHS.

Fans packed that gym to overflow capacity as standing-room-onlycrowds estimated at 2,000-plus watched the top Class B-BB teamscompete. Semifinals and finals were played on Saturday, with latemorning and evening sessions. Area motels and restaurants wereoverflowing with out-of-town patrons.

Dan Presley coached the BHS Panthers one year (2001-02) after beingan assistant to Preston Wilson. He elected not to accept the topjob and it went to Ronald Hines who held the position for eightyears.

Dan Presley has been teaching health at BHS for 14 years.

In the late winter of 1972, the Presley twins played in the BHSgymnasium. Loyd Star finished second to a Durant team that waspowered by future Alcorn State star Terry Large.

In 1971, the Hornets finished fourth. Jumpertown’s Cardinals,wearing bright red uniforms, beat New Hebron in the finals. NewHebron was led by standout guard Mike Jones and the Golden Bearswere coached by a youthful Bobby Lee.

Don Presley currently teaches middle school science at Loyd Star.He also officiates football and basketball games, plus somesoftball and baseball.

“I was calling a playoff basketball game the other day, and I raninto a referee from Durant,” said Don. “I remember it was such abitter loss. We had played two games that day. We had to come backthat night.

“I remember how tired I was after the game but it was a relief tohave the season over with. I think we played about 45 games. Wewere about 36-9. I wouldn’t take anything for thosememories.”

He and his brother played for Co-Lin and helped lead them to theNJCAA National Tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., in 1974. It wasCoach M.K. Turk’s last year at Co-Lin as he accepted an assistantcoaching job at Memphis State.

“Basketball was a way to pay for my college,” Presley pointed out.”It got me an education and a job.”

The Presleys later graduated from Delta State University.

Don shared more memories. “I coached Bogue Chitto twice to thestate tournament. I set a goal to officiate a state tournament gamebefore I’m through.”

Presley is in his 30th year of teaching. Dan has 28 years. “We arethinking about doing some fishing and hunting after we retire. Wemight do some carpenter work, too.”

He recalled that heart-breaking loss to Durant and the eventsleading up to it. “Coach Sasser put us all in cars after the 11a.m. (semifinals) game and took us up to the Co-Lin gym to layaround and rest. It’s all just a blur.”

Large played larger than life. “He had a career night against us.They were the No. 4 team out of the North. They upset somebody tomake it to the finals.”

Presley had a brief but successful coaching career at Bogue Chitto,taking the Bobcats to the state tournament. “When I had GregCameron and Keith Tobias at Bogue Chitto, we ran into Jumpertownabout 25 years ago.”

The New Hebron rivalry was intense. “I remember we beat New Hebronin district and South Mississippi. They really had it in for us.Then we lost in the semifinals,” of state.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O. BOX551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mail sports@dailyleader.com