2018’s biggest sports stories: Part 2
On Thursday we began a look back at the biggest local sports stories of 2018 with five top moments. Today we’ll wrap up the look back with five more big local sports stories from the last 12 months.
Moochie Britt calls it a career
You know a coach has left a legacy when their name becomes synonymous with the sport they coached. That’s exactly the impact that Gene “Moochie” Britt has had on basketball in Lincoln County. After a career that saw him coaching for over 40 years, Britt retired in April. His last job was coaching basketball at Loyd Star for 22 years.
Britt’s first job in Lincoln County came in 1973 when he was hired to coach basketball at Brookhaven Academy. He built BA into a powerhouse that dominated private school basketball throughout the 80s. From 1980-1982 his girls won three straight A titles in the association then known as the MPSA. In 1983 the Lady Cougars lost in the state tournament but capture the first Overall State Tournament championship in school history. The Lady Cougars eventually moved up to AA where they won state titles in 1984 and 1986.
Britt was just as successful on the boys’ side as he led the Cougars to AA state titles in 1988 and 1989. The 1989 team also captured the Overall State Tournament.
In 1996 Britt was hired to lead the boys’ team at Loyd Star, his alma mater. His Hornet teams won numerous division and county titles and his 2010 team made it to the 2A state semifinals. The Hornets were knocked out of the semis at the Mississippi Coliseum by Baldwyn High 57-55 and finished the season with a 23-5 record.
In 2013 Britt was tapped to pull double duty as he took over the girls’ program at Loyd Star. The Lady Hornets were coming off of 3-21 season the year before Britt took over and finished 15-12 in his first season of coaching girls in nearly 20 years. From 2015-2017 the Lady Hornets had a combined record of 43-5 as they put together a dominating run in the county. Britt never had a losing season in his five years leading the Lady Hornets.
Britt was an all-state player at Loyd Star in his younger days. He was the star of the 1968 Loyd Star state championship team. His college basketball career saw him play at Mississippi State, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, New Mexico State, and the University of West Alabama.
The MPSA is now known as the MAIS and they put Britt in their hall of fame in 2018. Britt is also a member of the Co-Lin Hall of Fame based on his one season of suiting up for the Wolves, a season in which he led the nation in rebounding.
The most impressive thing about Britt and his coaching career might be adaptability. The system that Britt used defensively and offensively was dictated from year-to-year by the capabilities of his players. He stressed fundamentals, playing with effort, and for many years had his wife Margaret with him on the bench keeping the book and serving as an unofficial assistant coach.
Britt might not be on the sidelines coaching anymore, but his legacy lives on every time one of his former players begins a sentence with, “I played for Moochie at…”
BA wins MAIS AA baseball series
The Brookhaven Academy Cougars won their first baseball state championship since 2010 when they swept Tri-County Academy in the MAIS AA state title series in May.
Then junior Dawson Flowers tossed a complete game victory in the title clinching 14-4 win over Tri-County.
The biggest task for coach Tyler Parvin and his team in 2018 was meeting the expectations that everyone outside the program had for the Cougars. After Tucker Watts, Tanner Watts, and Dawson Zumbro transferred to join the Cougars from Loyd Star, many were ready to start ordering rings before the season began.
Parvin did a masterful job of gelling the team together as the talented group finished 28-8 against a tough schedule. Tucker Watts signed with Southwest Community College, O’Neil Burgos signed with Jones County Junior College, and fellow seniors Levi Smith and Taylor Freeny made big post season plays for the Cougars.
BA played their best baseball late as they went 16-3 over the final two months of the season. They picked up a win over MHSAA 5A Pearl River Central and dropped a close 4-3 loss to MHSAA 4A powerhouse Sumrall.
LC Lady Cougars are top 4A hoops team in the state
The Lawrence County Lady Cougars capped a consistent season of domination with a victory in the MHSAA 4A state championship in March. The Lady Cougars defeated Byhalia 38-34 in the Mississippi Coliseum to cap a dream season that saw them finish 31-3.
After losing to 6A St. Martin at the Bay High Christmas Tournament the Lady Cougars went on a tear to win 18 games in a row as they marched towards the state title. They finished 10-0 in Region 7-4A play and won a nail-biting 38-34 victory over Gentry High in the state quarterfinals.
The Lady Cougars had a large senior class that they counted on to lead the team as they went from 15-12 as juniors to winning over 30 games their final season.
Senior Camyrn Davis — who now suits up for Co-Lin — scored a team high 15 points in the championship game. Then junior Kyunna Thomas added 12 points for the Lady Cougars in the win over Byhalia. It was the first girls’ basketball title in school history for Lawrence County, but the second career gold ball won by head coach Vicki Rutland who had previously led a championship team at Northwest Jones.
Reclassification means big changes for BA and Wesson in 2019
There was much celebration, jubilation, and exclamation coming from Copiah County in late October when the MHSAA released their reclassification numbers. After six seasons as one of the smallest 3A teams in the state, the Wesson Cobras are moving back down to the 2A classification.
Instead of traveling to play the likes of Seminary and Columbia in 2019, the Cobras will join a region with Bogue Chitto, Loyd Star, West Lincoln, and Enterprise.
The Cobras will now be the largest school in the 2A division by having four less students than Clarkdale High School when the official count was made.
Brookhaven Academy will also be in for some big changes inside their association in 2019. In October the MAIS announced that they would completely revamp their classifications and move to a 1A-6A division system for football and a 1A-5A classification for all sports excluding football.
BA will be a member of the 4A division in all sports. Their football district will contain Tri-County Academy, Clinton Christian Academy, and Canton Academy. In non-football sports the Cougars will compete in a district with Silliman Institute, Oak Forest Academy, Adams County Christian School, and Cathedral.
Co-Lin football ends four-year playoff drought
Coach Glenn Davis and his Co-Lin Wolves made it back to the MACJC Playoffs in 2018 after a four-year absence. The Wolves (6-4) finished as south division runners-up after losing a tough 28-23 road game at Jones County. The Wolves were eliminated by the eventual national champion East Mississippi Lions 31-7 in their playoff opener.
Co-Lin was coming off of a rare losing season that saw them finish 4-5 in 2017. Before that the Wolves had not had a team finish the regular season with a sub .500 record since 2008.
The 2018 Wolves were balanced offensively and had one of the most explosive group of wide receivers in school history. New defensive coordinator William Jones directed a unit that gave up just 19 points per game.
Co-Lin had 14 players sign early with senior colleges in December and will have some highly sought-after recruits in their 2019 class that includes receiver Malik Heath (former Mississippi State signee), receiver Kundarrius Taylor (former Oklahoma signee), and defensive lineman Jordan Davis (former Alabama signee).
Story by Cliff Furr