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Co-Lin’s Young hunts players to fill gigantic shoes

Co-Lin women’s basketball coach Gwyn Young is looking for somegiant feet to fill some giants’ shoes. In other words, Young mustfind replacements for four talented starters who directed his LadyWolves to a sixth place finish in last week’s NJCAA NationalTournament. Besides that quartet, he must replace two top reservesoff that 27-4 squad.

To make recruiting more difficult, the local talent pool inLincoln County is running on empty. Overall, the shortage ofrecruitable talent in the Co-Lin district is alarming.

“It will be tough filling some of those shoes,” admitted Young.After 34 years at Co-Lin, the highly respected Young knows women’sbasketball inside and out.

Hopefully, it’s just a down cycle as far as high schoolbasketball goes. For sure, there are some talented juniors in thearea, led by Lawrence County guard Tiaria Griffin.

First of all, let’s recognize the four starters being lost tograduation. They are forward Brandi Simmons of Jackson (Murrah),guard Kiare Etienne of Jennings, La., center Sedreka Plummer ofLafayette, La., and forward G.G. Williams of New Iberia, La.

Two of those outstanding reserves are Paige Webster of FranklinCounty (Meadville) and Kristen Newsome of Jackson (Forest Hill).Point guard Keosha Bradley of Natchez will be the only returningstarter when preseason practice begins next October.

Co-Lin often received a lot of offensive and defensive help fromits bench. Those returnees are guards Ann Shelby Davis of Wessonand Alexis Stirgus of Vicksburg, center Jasmine Belton of Natchezand forward C.C. Miller of Meadville.

Young, with 775 career victories, admits his recruiting campaignfell about three weeks behind schedule due to the nationaltournament appearance. He and assistant coach Cliff Furr have madecountless phone calls to high schools in search of players.

Young said he plans to sign as many as three players fromFranklin County. They are Vintrice Briggs, Jessica Jackson andLeondra Shaw.

Also on the list is 6-foot-1 Natchez center Ricarla Shotwell. AMendenhall prospect is Josalyn Sullivan, a guard for the LadyTigers.

Young said April 8 is the official signing date for NJCAA. A lotof junior colleges boast large recruiting budgets. Manyinternational players dot the rosters of teams competing fornational championships.

Pensacola (Fla.) State College defeated Co-Lin in the secondround of the national tournament last week and the Lady Piratesonly had one player from Florida on the roster. In Co-Lin’s case,the Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges permitsthree out-of-state players on the roster.

Give Coach Young credit. When it comes to a recruiting budget,he does a lot with a little.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the Mullen Gymnasium foyer,Co-Lin men’s coach Dennis Sims has been combing the district insearch of players. Prospects are much better in Lincoln County whenreviewing high school boys teams.

Lincoln County has three promising Co-Lin prospects in guard JayCase of West Lincoln, and centers Fred Fairman and DanielWashington of Brookhaven.

Three Co-Lin players who started the finals game of the season,Jake Reed, Maurice Williams and Chris Miller; will be returning.Also expected to return are reserves Kelly Puckett and RyanMcKinley.

In the Co-Lin district, which covers Adams, Lincoln, Lawrence,Copiah, Franklin, Lawrence, Jefferson and Simpson Counties; Simsplaced guard Roman Lofton of Crystal Springs on the protected list.Lofton went down with an ACL knee injury the last game of regularseason.

Sims and Furr are scanning the Magnolia State for more talentedplayers. He found some potential

at St. Martin in Ocean Springs and one at Jackson Jim Hill.

Young and Sims will conduct Co-Lin tryouts April 4 in MullenGym. “There are some kids we need to look at, locally,” said Sims.He will be able to sign three out-of-staters, too.

Five Co-Lin standouts will represent their school in the MACJCAll-Star Basketball Games, March 28, at East Central in Decatur.They are guard Marcus Hooten off the men’s team, plus Plummer,Simmons, Etienne and Williams off the women’s team.

Action tips off at 5 p.m. in Brackeen-Wood Physical EducationBuilding with the women’s game. The men’s game starts at 7 p.m.

Coaching the South women is Sandra Sumrall of Jones County.Directing the South men is Bubba Skelton of Jones County.

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