By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
It is early in the 2009-2010 high school basketball season, but there is a possible girls showdown in the works for Saturday night.
If Belmont and New Site win their preliminary games at the New Site Tournament, the two former Division 1-2A opponents will play each other in the tournament’s championship game at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Both Belmont and New Site were two of the area’s top teams heading into this season, and they also feature two of the area’s best players. Both teams won 20-plus games last season and return the majority, if not all, of their starters.
New Site won two of the three head-to-head matchups last year, but are still glad to see that the Lady Cardinals have moved from Class 2A to 3A this year. Not to mention, the Lady Royals are also pleased to not have two-time defending Class 2A state champion H.W. Byers in its division this season.
“Yeah, definitely,” Lady Royals head coach Byron Sparks said. “They’re also probably glad to not have to get through us anymore – and Byers went to 1A. It worked out good for us.”
Belmont forward Anna Brooke Page averaged 20.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game as a junior last year. In her first two games this season, Page has scored 31 and 22 points. The 22 points came entirely in the first half against Red Bay, Ala., as she sat the second half.
In the teams’ two regular-season meetings last year, Page was held to 11 and 13 points. She did score 22 points against the Lady Royals during the Division 1-2A Tournament in February.
New Site guard Krystal Jackson was just as impressive last year, averaging 15.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.8 steals per game.
When asked to compare and contrast Page and Jackson, Belmont head coach Chris Higginbottom said Jackson’s more of an outside player who can drive and pass, while Page is more of a rebounder playing inside at the four or five positions.
“Krystal Jackson can drive to the basket and she can also shoot outside,” he added. “She takes care of their offense and handles the ball well. Those are her strengths.”
And as far as Page goes?
“Anna Brooke is just going to play smart, run the offense from the inside, and she can shoot the jumper,” Higginbottom said. “This year we are going to use her on the block.”
Hoskins signs with Alcorn State
Aberdeen standout guard Jameika Hoskins signed a national letter of intent on Tuesday to play basketball at Alcorn State next season.
The senior is averaging 27 points in two games this season and has led the Lady Bulldogs to three straight state tournament appearances, the first three in school history. Aberdeen has lost to Raymond each time, last season for the first time in the semifinals.
“It’s a huge thing, a big decision I had to make,” said Hoskins, who had looks from Ole Miss and Mississippi State. “Now I can get my mind on a state championship.”
Brandon Speck, Monroe Journal
In his first season as Okolona’s head football coach, Calvin Aldridge has guided his alma mater to a 9-3 record and a Class 1A quarterfinals berth.
He credits his players for setting goals and working hard along the way in achieving them.
“The fact that they wanted to go to work compliments the kids,” said the Okolona High Class of 1978 graduate. “Good things happen to those who work hard at something.”
The Chieftains were 4-7 last year and failed to make the playoffs.
“It helps to have good speed, size and strength, too,” said Aldridge, whose brothers Danny, Andrew and Lamar are coaching at Grenada, Mantachie and Tupelo, respectively. “Those are the tangibles you need.”