Plenty of highs in prep basketball

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, March 15, 2012

Putting the final nails in the lid of the 2011-12 high school basketball season.

     There were plenty of highs and a few lows during the roundball campaign. Probably the biggest surprise was at Bogue Chitto where the Lady Cats excited everyone with their late-season surge that landed them in the Class 1A State Tournament.

     Not much was expected after last season. The Lady Cats graduated 7 of their top 8 players. Coach Christi Terrell was short-handed much of the season and managers were used on the practice team. Their stunning upset of the Stringer Red Devils in the South State semifinals punched their ticket to the state tourney.

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     Terrell’s team is looking forward to next season since there are 5 starters returning, plus a talented crop of junior high players. The starting quintet included Adrienne Wallace, Earlneshia Dillon, Rheagan Welch, Mattie Avants and Lauren Wallace.

     West Lincoln’s boys lived up to their high expectations, marching to the Class 1A state tournament for the first time in 16 years. Coach Lane Young’s Bears got off to a slow start against the Coldwater Cougars and suffered the expected consequences in the state semifinals.

     On the bright side, the Bears only lose one starter to graduation off their South State championship squad. They should be favored for a return trip to the state tourney in 2013. Standout guards Jared Case and Duane Marshall are returning, along with post players Lucas Burris and Sam Bivens, plus guards Darius Clark and LeKeith Ward. Case has been selected to play for the South squad in this summer’s MAC All-Star Game.

     Both Brookhaven Academy teams enjoyed impressive 30-plus win campaigns. The BA Cougars won South State AA and were runners-up in the state tourney to Marshall Academy. The Lady Cougars finished third at state and both BA teams advanced to the MAIS Overall Tournament. Both BA teams were eliminated by Jackson Prep.

     Coach Dale Watts faces a rebuilding challenge with his boys as three starters graduate. Returning starters are Gage Posey and Matthew Evans, plus top reserve Zach Smith. Starters lost include Brock Smith, Brennan Miller and Christian “Bubba” Keene.

     The Lady Cougars made a strong run under first-year coach Ginger Duease. Only two starters, senior guards Terah Winborne and Laura Beth Wright, returned from the 2011 Overall Tournament championship team. Duease’s team should be strong in the post with the return of 6-1 centers Carey Crozier and Mary Elizabeth Jordan. Madison Warren returns at guard. Duease must develop some steady shooters during the offseason to keep the team competitive at a high level.


     Loyd Star’s future looks bright after a rebuilding season for the girls and boys. Both junior high teams enjoyed exceptional campaigns but most of those players are at least two years away from realizing their potential. Terion Williams, the leading scorer and rebounder for Coach Gene “Moochie” Britt’s boys, is among the returnees. Coach Billy Vaughn’s Lady Hornets lose All-County center Tyrisha Patterson to graduation plus fellow seniors Courtney Watts and Melody Smith. Among the returnees are Maggie Redd and Marcy Givens.

     The Enterprise and Bogue Chitto boys are anticipating better days ahead and so are the West Lincoln girls after mediocre campaigns. The Enterprise girls, coached by Jill Nations, have their top two scorers and rebounders back in Caroleah Brister and Veonka Sanders.

     At Brookhaven, the Lady Panthers lose leading scorer Tiakara Kelly, plus   No. 2 and No. 3 scorers in Shareeka Hill and Ariel Owens to graduation. Returning to Coach Freda Craft’s teams are Fredericka Fairman, Christen Benson and Diamond Herring.

     It will be a rebuilding mode for Coach Preston Wilson’s Panthers, too. Glenn Buie, Ross Hill, Dennis Jordan and Chris Rancifer are among the starters lost to graduation. Juniors Ryan Thibodeaux, Norlando Veals and Ladarius Burage must take up the slack, plus a promising group of sophomores.

     Wesson’s Cobras and Lady Cobras enjoyed great campaigns. The Lady Cobras, coached by Rusti Magee, are hit hard by graduation, Madison and Mak Rials and Dylann Harris. By contrast, Coach Rusty Newman’s boys reached the Class 2A South State semifinals with no seniors on the squad.

     At Lawrence County, Coach Vicki Rutland’s Lady Cougars enjoyed a successful season. Seniors Mary Margaret McLaurin and Taylor Brister were among the team leaders. Brittany McDuffey is expected to be a leader next season.

      The Lawrence County boys, coached by Pat Bridges, showed improvement and are looking forward to next season. Among the graduates are David Haynes and Juan Williams. Returning is Brandon Daniels, a 6-6 forward.

     Franklin County featured two young teams. Coach Chris Jordan’s Bulldogs made a strong run at the end of the season. Coach Charles Moore’s Franklin County girls almost made it back to the Class 3A state tournament. Senior guard Kierra Collins is a Mississippi all-star and a team leader.

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