Rumble In The South achieves big success

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, January 20, 2011

Monday’s Rumble In The South boys basketball tournament, held atMississippi College’s A.E. Wood Coliseum, was a big success. Itfeatured some of the best high school basketball teams in theMagnolia State. Appropriately, the games were held on Martin LutherKing Day, as part of the national holiday celebration.

Of particular interest were the public versus private schoolmatchups. In case you missed it, McComb beat Madison-RidgelandAcademy 62-51, Jackson Prep edged Pearl 57-55, and Jackson Academydowned St. Andrew’s 54-43.

It was great basketball, including some of the top teams in theMagnolia State. In three other matches, featuring public versuspublic, Ridgeland knocked off Brandon 51-48, Meridian clippedCallaway 64-59 and Cleveland East Side whipped Kemper County61-44.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

High school basketball fans had to travel to the Jackson area tocatch the action. The next question.

Why not have a similar tournament in Lincoln County on MLKDay?

Brookhaven High and Brookhaven Academy have the largestgymnasiums available and the locations are fan friendly. However,parking can be a problem at BHS. If it’s not raining, the walk toSinclair Gymnasium can be invigorating.

It could be an exclusive boys tournament or it could be coed.Three or four public schools could be matched against some areaprivate schools. Local corporate sponsorship could bedeveloped.

Sounds like a great idea. However, some mental and emotionalbarricades must be knocked down before it happens. There are somemonumental hurdles but the mountaintop can be achieved.

Certainly, Dr. Martin Luther King would be in favor of knockingdown those barriers to open new doors of understanding andsportsmanship between area schools.

Speaking of barriers, two schools in northern Mississippi arejoining hands to keep their football programs afloat. Wheeler andNew Site are merging forces for two years and will play andindependent schedule in 2011 and 2012.

Wheeler finished 2-9 in 2010. New Site played an independentschedule and went winless in nine games. Obviously, principals fromboth schools, Paul Henry of New Site, and Todd Swinney of Wheeler;saw the writing on the wall.

Wheeler and New Site are both Class 1A schools known best fortheir basketball success. New Site only had 12 players availableand was forced to buy out of a game contract due to the shortage ofhealthy bodies.

Wheeler competed for the first time in region play last yearwith 15 players that included several junior high level students.Five seniors are scheduled to graduate off the latest edition.Swinney stated that Wheeler had to buy out three games, also knownas a forfeit.

Not having a home field adds to Wheeler’s problems. Each yearWheeler has had a different head coach. Sound familiar?

The Mississippi High School Activities Association’s ExecutiveCommittee voted unanimously (13-0) to support the merger. Theconsolidated team will practice at Merietta, a feeder schoollocated between New Site and Wheeler.

Hopefully, the next two years will bring more success for thestruggling programs. To say the least, it is a difficult situationfor both schools.

West Lincoln has been dealing with adversity on the gridironsince the program began in 1998. There has been a steady parade ofhead coaches during that 12-year span. The annual battle cry hasbeen, “Rebuilding.”

Current West Lincoln head coach Chris Calcote watched his Bearsgo winless in 11 games last season. Their losing streak hasincreased to 18 games over two seasons.

Three years ago, Calcote inherited a 16-game losing streak whenBrooks Burns stepped down as head coach. Obviously, lack of successhas discouraged many youngsters from participating in the footballprogram.

In a desperation move to find some type of victories the nexttwo years, West Lincoln has elected to follow the independent road.In other words, the Bears won’t play a Region 4-1A schedule thatincludes Bogue Chitto, Natchez Cathedral, Dexter, Salem, MountOlive, St. Aloysius, Hinds AHS, Stringer, Resurrection ofPascagoula and University Christian of Brandon. UniversityChristian has moved from the private school ranks to the MHSAA.

Instead, the Bears will play teams like Ethel and WilliamsSullivan of Durant, along the Mt. Hermon, La., and etc. The rest ofthe schedule will be revealed when West Lincoln principal JasonCase gives his final stamp of approval.

West Lincoln loses three seniors to graduation off of lastseason’s team, so the future should be bright. The Bears have anadequate field house and a respectable weight training area. PerryMiller Field’s playing surface is improving, too.

What Calcote needs most are more athletes on the football team.Several of the school’s best only play basketball. In a Class 1Aschool, athletes are called upon to play several sports for anathletic program to be successful. They need encouragement.

Judging by attendance at games, West Lincoln doesn’t lackcommunity support. That enthusiastic support certainly would growwith a few wins. Younger athletes might seriously consider playingfootball.

Becoming a good athlete is a year-round effort in just aboutevery sport. Of course, football demands the most dedication.Administrative support and strong coaching are prerequisites,too.

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