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Youth plus hard work drives Loyd Star basketball teams

In a long and storied career as a player and coach, Gene “Moochie” Britt has never had a tougher offseason than the one he just survived. The Loyd Star head basketball coach dealt with a cancer diagnosis and heart issues that saw him spend extended time under the care of a physician. But just as death and taxes are certain, so is the sight of Britt on the sidelines of gyms in Southwest Mississippi and that’s exactly where he’ll be this season as he leads the Loyd Star girls and boys basketball teams.

The Loyd Star girls were a force to be reckoned with last season as they finished 21-3 before falling to Newton in the MHSAA 2A State Tournament. The cohesiveness of the team was the result of a group that had played together since before junior high.

Gone to graduation are six seniors including the entire starting lineup. Britt expects to get leadership on a young team from his most experienced players, the Poole sisters, Marley and Meagan.

Meagan Poole, a junior, saw action in 19 contests last season and was one of Britt’s first substitutes in the game when a starting guard was in foul trouble. Marley Poole played in 12 games last season and is the only senior on the team this season. Britt also sees Sarah Britt (3.1 ppg in 12 appearances last season) as a player who will be counted on to help with the scoring load.

“Obviously we lost a lot when we graduated Lydia Britt, Caylee Yarborough, Makenzie Smith, Faith Bergeron, Kaylan Smith and Kaylea Smith,” said Britt. “We’re young and inexperienced, but the girls are playing hard for me and if they keep that effort up I know we’ll improve as the season progresses,” said Britt.

On the boy’s side, Britt returns some experience, but not as much as he had just a few weeks ago. The recent MHSAA eligibility saga at the school has seen Britt lose three players off his roster, including two probable starters.

In addition, Patrick Price, a returnee that Britt is counting on as one of his few seniors, will be out until Christmas after sustaining an injury in football. That means Britt will need even more from his returning leading scorer, Dane Smith.

Smith has been quarterbacking the Hornets football team, but when he returns to the hardwood Britt will need him to pick up where he left off last season after averaging 14.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game as a sophomore.

“We had two good seniors graduate last year and we’ve lost some kids recently, but I think when we get everybody back from football and everybody healthy and everybody gets in basketball shape around district time, we’ll have a chance to start playing our best basketball of the year at the most important time,” said Britt.