David Wheeler on High School Sports

Gosh, is it playoff time in Mississippi for high schools already?
My schedule has kept me so busy that I almost did not know it was division tournament week. Well, not totally.
The bar for post-season success by Northeast Mississippi schools was set pretty high last season.
In girls, H. W. Byers in Class 1A, New Site in 2A, Belmont in 3A, Pontotoc in 4A, and Oxford in 5A all won state championships.
In boys, Biggersville was in the 1A title game, Baldwyn in the 2A title game, Booneville in the 3A title game, and Tupelo in the 6A title game.
But that level of success will not happen this year, sad to say.
Still, every team has a chance, so what should we be looking forward to this week, trying not to get too far ahead of ourselves?
Class 1A was pretty cool a year ago.
In girls, 2-1A saw all four teams that advanced out of division play pitted against each other in the semifinals of the North. Will not happen this year, though I think Byers will have smooth sailing this week.
In 1-1A, the boys will be pretty fun. Biggersville and Blue Mountain might be locks for the championship game, with the likes of Wheeler, Jumpertown, Thrasher and Falkner tough on a good day.
In 1-2A, the New Site girls and Baldwyn boys, if they keep their focus, should breeze through the week. In 2-2A, I suspect that Bruce boys have the edge there.
In 1-3A, the Booneville boys might be everybody’s favorite. Not a bad thought, but for all these favorites this week, a continuing theme will be keeping their focus.
I have thought that Booneville has been the best boys team in this corner of the state since Christmas, no exceptions!
Also in 1-3A boys, the battle for seeding next week between Ripley, Alcorn Central, and perhaps even Holly Springs, should be fun.
In 1-3A girls, Belmont is the defending champion, but currently has no starters from last season on the court. Ripley has several quality wins, including a victory over former No. 1 in the state Southaven (6A).
Keep your focus Ripley. Belmont and Booneville potentially a good semifinal matchup.
In 2-3A boys, it’s Mooreville and Aberdeen. Though trying to avoid looking into next week, I will here.
The loser of the potential Mooreville-Aberdeen 2-3A championship could see Booneville Thursday of the north half. Good stuff for a putout game.
Another competitive division has been 1-4A.
On the boys side, Corinth, Shannon and Amory are worth watching. Especially Shannon-Amory in semifinal action on Wednesday.
On the girls side, Pontotoc has looked the part of a defending state champion within the division.
That sets up an interesting semifinal between Itawamba AHS and Shannon. I like qualities of all these teams, but Shannon has caught my eye with how hard they play all season.
Where ever the Shannon girls fall next week, they will be a tough out.
In 2-4A girls, New Albany and Jazmine Spears and North Pontotoc with its big front line are worth a look.
In 2-4A boys, Eric Channey is perhaps the quickest guard in this corner of the state, and should help New Albany advance into next week.
In 2-5A, keep your focus Oxford girls.
And, it is a shame Oxford and Saltillo boys play in the semifinals.
(remember, in 5A and 6A, only teams in the championship games advance to the North)
In 2-6A, both Tupelo teams have the No. 1 seed.
For the Tupelo girls, who only have one senior on the roster, the challenge should be Friday against Columbus, whom they have split with this season.
For the Tupelo boys – focus. Not because you might be the favorite, but because that is the only way you will be successful.
Good luck to all schools this week, and thank you for a great 2012-13 season thus far.

David Wheeler has been contributing to the high school sports coverage of the Daily Journal since 1985.

Posted in Sports

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