This column is normally dedicated to a single topic but not so today.
There will be plenty of my personal opinions included along with quotes, thoughts and ponderings from selected others that shall remain nameless. However, I feel the opinions of our readers matter as well as mine, thus the structure of today’s column.
I’ll begin in a place that, well, may not be the obvious place to start, but it’s certainly worthy of top billing.
Lady Braves making national headlines
For those who have been out of the loop, the Tishomingo County girls basketball team shocked the Mississippi hoops world last Tuesday in DeSoto County, going viral when senior guard Madison Bennett drilled an off-balance 25-foot three-pointer as the final buzzer sounded to hand her team a 47-44 win over perennial state title contender Choctaw Central, who came in to the game as the No. 1 class 4A team in the state.
The Lady Braves were No. 2. Now they switch places with the Lady Warriors as Tishomingo County enjoys their first trip to the top of the basketball mountain in any class.
Incidentally, Tish County had just come off quarantine, had not played a game in 17 days and had practiced only once prior to the DeSoto Central Invitational Tournament.
“It was a huge win for us,” said TC head coach Brian Middleton, “but as I said to our players after the game ‘if we win this one and then lose the region or bow out before the state finals, then this victory doesn’t mean near as much.”
The winning shot came on a play that Middleton says actually doesn’t have a name.
“There was a gap that had been open in their (Choctaw Central) defense,” Middleton recalled, “and the plan was for (point guard) Adnee (Floyd) to penetrate the gap and try to score or dish off to Maura (Nunley) in the left corner or Maddie (Bennet) on the left wing. The play broke down and luckily Maddie circled around behind Adnee, took the pass and launched it from NBA range with about one second left. There were less than 10 seconds left when we inbounded the ball on that possession, and if the shot hadn’t gone in, I was fine with playing an extra four minutes of overtime.”
“I’ll be honest, it was the longest 10 seconds of my coaching career.”
Middleton won a state championship at Oak Hill Academy in 2016 before taking the TC job and says he sees state championship chemistry and potential in this group of girls.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” he said. “This is a special group of student athletes and they are even hungrier now that we won that game the way we did.”
By the way, ‘The Shot” was the No. 2 Play of the Day on ESPN that next night and the video of the shot has been set to music, backed by the Theme from Titanic, as well as another Facebook post featuring the saying “Tishomingo County isn’t always on SportsCenter, but when we are, we’re hitting winning three-point shots.”
An experience such as what the Lady Braves and their head coach have been through over the past seven days, has been known to give teams the so-called ‘big head’ but Middleton says it’s had the opposite effect on his squad.
“As soon as the shot went in and the SportsCenter thing happened the girls met and, together, decided to use this as a springboard for bigger and better things. We don’t want to settle for one singular big moment and not win a state title or even a region title,” concluded Middleton.
I have not seen the Lady Braves up close and personal this season but that will hopefully soon change. Now I can’t wait to see this now nationally-known prep team play as they attempt to keep building on their success to this point.
Good luck to the Tishomingo County Lady Braves the remainder of the season. They open Region 1-4A play Tuesday when they host an improved Corinth team.
‘The Brawl’ ... What it means in the long run
The Mississippi State/Tulsa game in the Armed Forces Bowl last Thursday ended in a free-for-all brawl that could result in criminal charges being filed against certain players, according to different news sources.
The Bulldogs held off the No. 24 Golden Hurricanes 28-26 but the victory quickly settled below the surface as an all-out melee broke out after the clock struck all zero’s.
There were a lot of different elements, none of them good, within the brawl itself. And the ironic part is, no one seems to know anything when it comes to what started it.
Let me level here: there is no place for fighting of any kind in any sports, especially on the collegiate level. Everyone wants to single out MSU receiver Malik Heath for openly kicking a Tulsa player, who was attempting to get up, in the chest and then run off like a coward.
And that would be fair.
But in my opinion, the most disgusting and disappointing part to me was the way head coach Mike Leach handled the entire raucous. Paraphrasing his post-game comments regarding the entire brawl Leach basically said, “Hey, it’s football, this stuff happens. I’m not gonna lose my mind over it.”
As much as the NCAA now places high value on institutional control, this kind of non-action on Leach’s part should be considered lacking in institutional control when it comes to controlling his players.
Did anyone see the comment on the MSU thread that said, in a nutshell, “Have you ever tried to corral 85 angry pit bulls or a herd of horses?”
Although Mississippi State Athletic Director John Cohen issued a statement afterwards saying that this kind of behavior is not what MSU athletics is all about, neither do they condone such actions. Why did we have to wait on Cohen to say that? Leach should have said it just after the game.
Guess he was too busy taking selfies with fans to really care.
If I’m a Bulldog fan, I’m embarrassed and angry with the head coach as well as the players who were involved, especially Mr. Heath who took to social media (SnapChat to be exact) to brag about what he had done. What kind of leaders are we if we allow this kind of behavior to be treated as if it’s a small thing?
Keep an eye and ear out hear in the Daily Corinthian sports pages, as well as my Twitter page, for what I expect and hope will be severe consequences for all those involved in ‘The Brawl.”
Alcorn County Tournament played in different format this year
Chances are most have seen the schedule for this year’s ACT being played at Alcorn Central High School. COVID played a major role in the formatting of this year’s event – no seeding of teams this year and only two days to complete.
The Thursday semifinals will pit the host school against Corinth in the high school gym in both boys and girls junior varsity and varsity while Kossuth and Biggersville will square off in the middle school gym.
The finals will be on the high school floor on Friday. Central Athletic Director Trae Bain, along with the ACHS administration, hopes this format will reduce the ability of COVID to spread.
As far as predictions I choose to abstain. However, don’t be surprised if the varsity championship games are rematches of the 2020 tournament when the Lady Aggies defeated the Lady Warriors and the Lions shocked the Warriors on a last second-buzzer beater.
The Prentiss County Tournament, also being played this week, will be without two of its schools as Thrasher and Wheeler have opted out due to concerns about the virus.
And in Tippah County, things get really crazy as first round games will be hosted by the higher seeded school on each level. That will make for some interesting stories down the road.
Til next time…