Sports Year in Review 2013


Second season starts with county match
Low scores don’t necessarily mean low intensity, proved by the Wildcats and Hilltoppers Jan. 19 game in Houlka.
Defense was the name of the game in a low-scoring second quarter that sent the Toppers into the break with a 19-14 lead and after a fierce county battle, the Houston boys took the 43-39 win.

Changing fields
Two Houston High School seniors signed baseball scholarships to local community colleges. Peyton Callahan heads to Mississippi Delta Community College while Kody Kimbrough signed with Northwest Community College.

Lady Rams division champs
The Vardaman Lady Rams overwhelmed the TCPS Eagles, 80-50 to finish the regular season as 4-1A division champions for the second consecutive year.

Toppers sweep division
The Houston Hilltoppers finished up in first place in district 4-4A with a perfect 5-0 record.
Football signings take five from county
Five local football players, four from Houston and one from Okolona, will move to the next level as they all signed with post-secondary schools Feb. 6.
Emmitt Dendy and Sharone Wright of Houston will play for Itawamba Community College while Corey Anderson signed with Holmes Community College.
Okolona’s Zach Pierce committed to Hinds Community College.
Houston’s Chris Jones chose Mississippi State as his school of choice. See story on page 1B.

Byars remembered
The family of the late Jimbo Byars was presented a commemorative basketball at the Rovertson’s Sportswear Ladies’ Basketball Challenge in honor of the Houlka coach who died January 15.

Staying on the court
The Vardaman Lady Rams and Houlka Wildcats came up winners in division tournament as both placed first in district 4-1A and are headed to North Half.
The Houston Hilltoppers and Okolona Chieftains also qualified to advance. All area teams ended their seasons in playoffs with none advancing to State.

Time for baseball
The Houlka Wildcats 1973 Class B State Championship team were guests of honor at the lead-off banquet to kick off the upcoming baseball season.

Wolves strike again
The East Webster Wolverines clinched their second consecutive State Title in bowling, sweeping the regional tournament in Tupelo and taking care of business in Jackson. East Webster knocked off East Union in the championship round for the title.

Abrams wins big at Dixie National
Nicole Abrams was awarded the Dixie National Sale of Champions Scholarship by Gov. Phil Bryant and Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Cindy Hyde-Smith at the nationally known event in February.
Abrams also earned ribbons in five other categories and is the second 4-Her from Chickasaw County to earn the prestigious $1,500 scholarship.

Baker garners honors
Houston native Ty-Nita Baker picked up MACJC honors as she was selected to All-State and the National Junior College Athletic Association All-Region team as a member of the ICC Lady Indians.

Four lifters power toward State
Four students from Chickasaw County qualified for the State powerlifting meet due to their performance at North Half in March. Houston’s Kenrick Maxwell and Jalon Gates and Okolona’s Dequin Babbit and Robert Herron will advance to the State meet in April.

Teams links a win
The young Houston High School golf team notched their first win on the links as they defeated both North and South Pontotoc April 2.

Jernigan tapped for state honor
In recognition for ten years of coaching softball at Houston High School, Keith Jernigan was named Coach of the Year by the Mississippi High School Athletics Association. Jernigan led the Lady Hilltoppers to a 34-2 record and state championship in Class 4A in 2012.

Playoff road
The Hilltoppers, Lady Hilltoppers and Wildcats are all on the playoff road and hoping to land at State this spring. The Lady Toppers will try for the second consecutive trip to Ridgeland while the Hilltoppers and Wildcats are entering playoffs and eyeing North Half.

Division champs
The Houlka Wildcats boys and girls teams both clinched their district championships April 16-17 and credited the honor to their late coach, Jimbo Byars.
Swinging to State
The Toppers were undefeated in district team play and clinched their district championship title and five members will continue on to the State playoffs in individual events.
MaKayla Pullen and Chapman Boyer will compete in mixed doubles, Walt Harrington and Emmitt Dendy will play in boy’s doubles and Chase Eldridge will take the court in boy’s singles at the Ridgeland Tennis Center.

Springer awarded at MDCC
Danny Springer was awarded Player of the Week by the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior College baseball programs. Springer is a Houston native currently enrolled at Mississippi Delta CC.

Franks going blue and gold
Longtime Houston basketball coach, Bruce Franks, announced his retirement from the public school system and will be teaching and coaching at Hebron Christian School this fall.

Playing at Freedom Park
The Houston Lady Hilltoppers and the East Webster Lady Wolverines both made it all the way and landed at the State Championship games at Freedom Park in Ridgeland.
The Lady Toppers fell just short of their goal of a two-peat, falling to Newton County and taking the runner-up position in Class 4A.
The Lady Wolverines dug in for three games against Enterprise-Clark and came up with the State Championship trophy in 2A.
Colbert powers up
Houston native and current resident of Hattiesburg, Anna Kathryn Colbert, has achieved a national ranking in powerlifting. Colbert attends Oak Grove High School where she joined the powerlifting team and qualified for the U.S. Association of Power Lifters national meet. Her total life of 628.25 earned her a third-place national ranking in her age division.

Changing of the guard
Long-time Houston softball coach, Keith Jernigan, is stepping off the softball field and back into the gym to coach middle school basketball. Jeffery Mann assisted Jernigan in 2013 and will assume leadership of the softball program.

Gooch inducted into Hall of Fame
Lanny Gooch of Houston was inducted into the NEMBCA Hall of Fame in recognition of his 35-year career coaching basketball. Also inducted was former Houlka basketball coach, James “Shorty” Turman.

Rams change leadership
Vardaman Rams coach, Justin Hollis, has accepted an administrative position ofMyrtle Attendance Center. Veteran coach and former football coach at Vardaman, Larry Gann, will take the helm of the Rams program this fall.


New face in the OHS fieldhouse
Thorn native, Jack Clark, returned to the local area to take the helm of the Okolona football program.

Changing guard at VHS
Larry Gann, an Okolona native, will be crossing over to Calhoun County to lead the Vardaman Rams this season.

Heading to the Big Apple
Houlka’s Saydee Moss was invited to participate in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. She was offered the honor through her selection to the Universal cheer Associations All-Star team.

Shooting straight
Local 4-H members, Cassie Earnest and Austin Reeves, both qualified for and participated in the State Shooting Sports Meet in Starkville this month. Reeves also earned a spot to compete at the National Meet in Grand Island, Neb.

Pitch it over
Hebron Christian School’s freshman pitcher, Brooke Griffin, started off the season right, throwing a no-hitter in the Lady Eagles win over Jackson Academy.

Maroon at State
The Houston Maroon USTA tennis team made their debut at the State tournamant this summer.

Midnight Madness
The Hilltoppers held their third annual Midnight Madness event, with community members and booster clubs turning the first full-pad practice into a combined pep rally and block party.

Chiefs in the stadium
The Okolona Chieftains continued a tradition of competing in the Ole Miss Jamboree where they routed Potts Camp 22-0.

Wolverines fell Rams
The East Webster Wolverines opened football season strong with a big win over Vardaman. The Wolves went 6-0 before opening division play and just missed a trip to playoffs this season.


Eagles soar over Humphreys
The Hebron Eagles regained their momentum for fall football with a 34-14 win over Humphreys Academy.
Okolona High School opened their season with a 31-0 win over county rival, Houlka High School.

Battle of the Creek
The Hilltoppers and Chieftains slugged through a defensive match for bragging rights and the trophy for the Battle of the Creek. The Chieftains took the trophy home with a 14-6 win on Faulkner Field in Okolona.

Lady Toppers break division with win
The Lady Toppers broke division play with a 14-5 win over New Albany on the slow pitch field. The Houston girls went on to clinch the division title.

Wildcats drown Rams
The Houlka Wildcats picked up a division win on the road as they downed the Vardaman Rams 59-13 in a muddy, rain-soaked match.

Diamond girls
The Lady Toppers picked up another division win while the East Webster Lady Wolverines shut-out the Lady Rams of Vardaman.
Lady Toppers head to playoffs
The Houston softball team took top honors in division and headed into playoffs hosting Corinth. The Lady Toppers battled through three games before falling to the Lady Warriors and ending the slow-pitch season.

Sharing the light of Christ
Joining together in unity to share the message of Jesus Christ, members of FCA groups in Mississippi carried a cross through every county in the state. Chickasaw County joined in the Mississippi Glowing event as students at Okolona High School passed the cross to Houlka students who carried it on to the FCA members from Houston High School.

Working for a spot
The Okolona Chieftains, Hebron Eagles and Houston Hilltoppers are still in contention for playoff berths with only two games left on the regular season schedule.
Securing a berth
The Okolona Chieftains secured one of the top four spots for playoffs with a 41-39 win over Bruce.

Playing at State
The East Webster Lady Wolverines knocked off rival Enterprise to make their debut trip to the slow-pitch State tournament, but fell just short of their goal, taking second place in 2A to Baldwyn.

Eagles are in
The Hebron Eagles clinched their division title and headed into the first round of playoffs against Delta Academy.

Three times charmed
The Houston Hilltoppers made history with their third consecutive trip to playoffs and are heading to Greenwood for the first round.

Keep on running
Houston’s cross-country team completed their regular season and are sending 14 members on to the State Meet in Clinton.

Suck it up, buttercup
The Houston softball alumni held their first alumni game to support the school program and had nine original team members and coach Glen Chisolm out for a day of fun on the diamond.

Winning ways
Sam Skelton led his Sav-A-Lot team to victory in the annual Chickasaw Journal’s Pigskin Pickers competition.

End of the road
Hebron closed their season at North Half with a loss against Sharky-Issaquena and Houston fell to Greenwood in the first round of playoffs. Okolona also saw their season end with a loss to West Bolivar.

Travelers travel to Jackson
The Tanglefoot Travelers tennis team made their debut at the State Meet with players from Houston and Pontotoc combining to form the team named after the Tanglefoot Trail.


Where the action is
All local and area basketball teams have the season under way and are working toward division play in January.
The Houston Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers split non-division games with East Webster early in the season.

Lady Chiefs take tourney trophy
The Okolona Lady Chieftains took top honors at the annual Hardwood Classic with an overtime win over the Lady Bulldogs of Aberdeen.

Lady Rams open strong
The Vardaman Lady Rams took a win over Jumpertown and coach Deanna Winter said she is still making adjustments on the court.

Chiefs, Wolves picked for division honors
Okolona and East Webster High Schools were represented well with multiple players listed on the Division 4-2A All-Region teams. Okolona had four Chieftains listed on the Super 24 team, including Offensive Player of the Year, Jacolbi Heard.

Loggins hosts local teams
Houston, Okolona and Vardaman all participated in the annual Curtis Loggins boy’s tournament over the Christmas break. Houston fell to hosting Calhoun City while Okolona took a loss to the Coffeeville Pirates. Vardaman battled, but fell, to Eupora.




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