If I were to say the Daily Corinthian coverage area has some serious contenders for a state basketball title this season, it would be no understatement.
And if I said that the sports menu is just as full this time of year than any other, who would believe me? For those that doubt either of those things allow me to provide evidence that they are, indeed, true.
In fact, I find myself busier during December and January than at just about any other juncture of the prep sports campaign.
Join me for a few minutes as I take a look at ‘What’s Going On Around Here” this week … and beyond.
Better teams beginning to show their mettle
With the high school basketball season at the two-month mark for many (several boys teams did not begin until after the conclusion of their schools football playoff runs), it’s becoming a bit more clear each and every game which teams are contenders and which are pretenders.
Don’t get me wrong, it’ll take a few more weeks before we know for sure who is the best of the best. But as of this week these are my contenders, based on having seen each team play and what each is capable of and has done already
I’ll start with the girls.
There’s no question who the No. 1 girls team in the DC coverage area is currently. Tishomingo County holds that spot firmly but has company nipping at their heels. The Lady Braves are ranked No. 2 overall in Mississippi and is the top-ranked 4A squad. The way coach Brian Middleton’s team has put opponents, away, and the opponents they have put away so far, is proof positive that TC is hungry and preparing for a deep run in the MHSAA playoffs when they begin in February.
So far the 13-0 Lady Braves have taken down the likes of Starkville (58-48), New Site (65-34), Columbus (59-41), Belmont (70-49), Olive Branch (77-74), Lafayette (60-41) and Kossuth (61-47). Notice the margins of victory in these games, most coming over traditional powers, including the three-time defending state champion Lady Conquistadors of Olive Branch. Tis County earned that victory in the recent Biggersville Girls Classic. The only reason the game was so close at the end was the fact that star players Clara Garland and Madison Bennett spent the better part of a quarter each on the bench in foul trouble. When TC had their starters on the floor they built comfortable double-digit leads of up to 16 points. Give Olive Branch credit, thought – they have won three gold balls in a row for a reason.
Other top contenders knocking on the door are Booneville, Kossuth and Biggersville. And the jury is still out on defending 2A State Champion New Site. The Lady Royals lost their first two games before reeling off seven straight before running into Corinth last Friday and dropping a 10-point decision to a much-improved Lady Warriors club.
The Lady Blue Devils were 8-0 heading into their Friday non-division contest at Alcorn Central. Coach Michael Smith has assembled a club more than capable of making a push for the Region 1-3A crown and a deep playoff run after what should be considered a couple of ‘down’ years for the program. This is a team steeped in pride and tradition, with state titles over the past decade to prove it.
The Lady Aggies have started 3-3 and are beginning to remind me of the 2018-19 team that won the state title. That coach Angie Malone club started a bit slow with several players nursing different injuries as the season began and were 7-7 at one point before winning 19 of their last 20. Kossuth’s losses have come against difficult competition in Louisville Blue Mountain (ranked No. 9 in the state currently) and Tishomingo County. The Lady Aggies, as usual are a team to watch out for when February arrives.
As for the Lady Lions, coach Cliff Little recently said that anything short of a 1A state championship would be a disappointment for his junior-heavy squad. After all they advanced to the state semifinals last March before succumbing to West Lowndes by a mere four points after what the coach called “our worst performance of the season.”
Just think what the Biggersville girls could have accomplished, with all sophomores at the time, had they played well in that game. Could they have ultimately brought home the gold ball just as their male counterparts did? Interesting to think about. Heading into Thursday’s road contest at Pine Grove the Lady Lions were 5-1 heading into Thursday’s non-division game at Pine Grove.
In all, four girls teams from our coverage area are ranked inside the top 30 with two more on the outskirts (Blue Mountain at No, 13 and Belmont at No. 10) making noise as well.
As far as local boys squads, Booneville is on top of the totem poll right now. However, there are plenty of teams that are chomping at the bit to knock them off. One of those is Alcorn Central. The Golden Bears are 5-1 since an 0-5 start and have begun to gel without leading scorer Alex Moore. Three new starters and a couple of key reserves seem to have found a winning chemistry so don’t look past the Golden Bears.
Corinth is one of those teams that falls in the wait-and-see category. Plenty of athleticism and talent but they are still seeking that something that will put them on the next level. They are 5-4 ahead of their division home opener against Caledonia Friday.
Then there’s Biggersville. The defending state champions were 2-1, heading into their Thursday road date at Pine Grove, with their lone loss coming by five points (45-40) against top-ranked Tupelo last Saturday in the Doc Vanderford Classic at Baldwyn High School. Coach Little has simply reloaded, similar to what Coach Smith has done at Booneville, so I look for Biggersville to make another strong run at the Region 1-1A title and another trip to the state tournament.
Oh by the way, the Lions just knocked off previously unbeaten Wheeler Tuesday in a low-scoring game. It’s been a good start for BHS.
Most of the other teams in the area are currently in the middle-of-the-pack with a couple possibly capable of pulling a couple of upsets along the way.
Good luck to each and every local squad as they continue a season filled with endless possibilities.
Kossuth Alley-Aggies rolling again
The defending Class I State Champion Lady Aggies remain perfect following their win over East Union on Wednesday at Plaza Lanes. The Urchins are a traditional winning team that usually place a close second to Kossuth in the north half. Coach Michael Lee’s girls team improved to 7-0 and haven’t lost a match now in more than two years. They are definitely the odds-on favorite to repeat as state champions.
But don’t look past the Aggies. The KHS boys are 6-1 after their win over the Urchins. They seem to be building towards a run for both the north half and state titles.
Other local bowling squads such as Corinth and Alcorn Central have had solid seasons so far themselves and are capable of making a run come post season time.
Biggersville Boys Classic is this Saturday
The Biggersville Boys Classic all-day basketball event begins Saturday morning at 9 a.m. when Tishomingo County challenges McNairy Central. There are 10 games on the docket with Alcorn Central, Booneville, Corinth and the host school also participating.
The Lions will wrap it all up that night at 8:15 p.m. when they go up against Class 6A Southaven. The Chargers already have a pair of wins over DeSoto Central as well as one over traditional power Center Hill, who many just saw play in the recently in the Lighthouse Classic.
Peggy Bain Classic is next
The other prime high school basketball event in the DC coverage area, other than the Lighthouse Classic, is the Peggy Bain Classic. This year’s tournament begins on Monday, Dec. 27 and will once again feature pool play with winners in each pool taking home trophies. As usual there will be a nice variety of teams from not only the surrounding areas, but from around the tri-state area as well.
The full schedule will be published soon.