Mooreville got close last season, losing to Class 3A runner-up Booneville in the North semifinals. The Troopers also lost to state tournament team Aberdeen by four and nine points.
“We’ve got a good bit of talent if we can just put it together and do the things we need to do to win those ballgames,” Mooreville coach Jeff Tally said.
Mooreville has plenty of scoring options with 6-foot-6 all-star guard-forward Austin Timms, 6-3 guard Kelton Kingsley and guard Kelsey Scott. Sophomore Ben Seay joins that group. Scott led the team in scoring with 15.1 points and is joined by Raymond transfer guard Brandon Moore.
Seniors Devon Bartlett and Zack Westmoreland will be expected to contribute and junior Javon Berry returns to the team after starting as a sophomore.
Aberdeen returns with starters Aaron McMillian, Jakeese Walker and Brandon Hodges.
Booneville lost Journal Player of the Year Keldrick Lesley but has one of the state’s most recognizable faces in Kenny Paul Geno.
Ripley coach Grant Gardner coached Geno in the MAC All-Star Game in Clinton.
“He’s the best player in the state,” Gardner said.
Ripley shares Division 1-3A with the Blue Devils and returns leading scorer, Maliak Pearson.
“He’s the best on-ball defender I’ve ever coached,” Gardner said.
BALDWYN BEST OVERALL?
Class 2A runner-up Baldwyn is the talk of the preseason, returning four starters, including top three scorers freshman Duke Upshaw and seniors Dee Gates and Tevin Lindsey.
“In Baldwyn, people identify when you have a good team and know when you have an opportunity to go to Jackson. Certainly this is one of those years again,” Bearcats coach Jason McKay said.
Calhoun City returns two starters, sophomore Lavoris Varnado and junior Andrekus Ezell.
“I think defense will be our strong point,” Calhoun City coach Daren Coffey said. “I think we’re going to be able to get up and down the floor.”
In Class 4A, state runner-up Corinth returns Raheem Sorrell with a handful of juniors. Lakee Westbrook was the second-leading scorer for Shannon and returns for the Red Raiders, who went 28-3 and lost to eventual state champion Amanda Elzy in the North semis.
Biggersville’s second-leading scorer, Daniel Simmons, is one of seven juniors, along with brother Emmanuel, for the Lions coming off a state championship loss in Class 1A.
Lone senior Blake Stacy has senior leadership qualities, shooter Jaylon Gaines emerged as a sophomore and junior Marquis Watson has shown big leadership ability.
Jonathan Ashley takes over for his father, Norris, at Ingomar. His new team – and his former Myrtle team – will return the bulk of their production, including Robert Montgomery’s 23.5 scoring average for Myrtle.
BOYS PRESEASON TOP 5