By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
At least Jazmine Spears returns for Lady Bulldogs
New Albany girls basketball coach John Stroud lost eight of his top 10 players from last season’s Class 4A state championship team.
However, he’ll start practice Oct. 17 with the Daily Journal’s 2011 Player of the Year still in his lineup – Jazmine Spears. He is counting on the 5-foot-11 junior, who averaged 17.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and blocked 51 shots as a sophomore, to play “all over the court” until some of his younger talent develops.
“She’s developed good ball-handling skills, so she’ll be in a lot of places,” Stroud said. “She’s an unselfish player, who doesn’t mind passing the ball, but she’ll have to go out and get 25 points a game now. In the past, with good players around her, it more like 19 or 20.”
Stroud’s other returner is 5-4 guard Britney Johnson, who missed the second half of last season for academic reasons.
“We have a ton of players (14) who are freshmen or sophomores,” Stroud noted. “It’s going to be an interesting year.”
The starters New Albany lost from its state title team compiled an impressive 87-10 record over three seasons. They beat Lawrence County and its talented guard Tiara Griffin, 71-61, for the state championship.
New Albany moves to a new division this year, 2-4A, where its opponents will be Lafayette, Lewisburg, North Pontotoc, Rosa Fort and Senatobia. Stroud believes his team’s style of play – a halfcourt game – will give them an early edge against their new division foes.
Golden Wave tips off season with trio of classics
Tupelo High School tips off its hoops season with three one-days classics – Saturday, Nov. 5; Monday, Nov. 7 and Thursday, Nov. 10.
One of the highlight matchups for the Nov. 5 Tupelo Classic is the 5:45 p.m. girls game between defending 4A state champion New Albany and host Tupelo. That game will be followed by a boys matchup between Tupelo and DeSoto Central.
The event tips off at 9 a.m. with Alcorn Central playing Amory in a girls game. The remainder of the schedule: 10:45 – Alcorn Central vs. Hamilton (B); 12:30 – Grenada vs. Amory (B); 2:15 – Lafayette vs. DeSoto Central (G); 4 – Southaven vs. Holly Springs (B).
In the Tupelo Tipoff Challenge, scheduled for Nov. 7, Tupelo plays Hickory Flat in boys and girls while Okolona battles Oxford in boys and girls play,
The Tipoff Challenge’s Nov. 10 lineup features Tupelo playing West Point’s boys and girls and Okolona playing Booneville’s boys and girls.
Booneville’s boys are defending 3A state champions.
Cross country runners headed to THS Saturday
Northeast Mississippi’s third consecutive cross country meet – the Tupelo Invitational – will be run at 10 a.m. Saturday at Ballard Park in Tupelo.
Golden Wave boys coach Jonathan Begnaud said as many as 15 teams, featuring more than 700 runers, will participate. Some if the teams entered are Corinth, Oxford, Pontotoc, Saltillo, Mooreville, Myrtle and Rogers, Ala.
“It will be a lot of fun,” Begnaud said.
Tupelo’s boys, powered by sophomore Andrew White, won last weekend’s Saltillo Invitational with 21 points. White won the individual title, his third of the season, on the 5K course with a 16:13 clocking.
Garrett Rogers was second in 16:43 and Darnell Collier third in 17:03 for Tupelo.
“We had some guys who had missed run where they should be,” Begnaud said. “We’re improving a lot. You love to see that.”
Lady Wave freshman Christina Daniels captured her third race of the season at Saltillo, running a 15:47 on the 4K course. Pontotoc’s girls won the team portion with 46 points to Tupelo’s 53.