By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Ingomar’s Norris Ashley is looking forward to today’s second annual Prentiss County-Union County Clash at East Union.
“It’s a big deal for the oldtimers like me,” said the Falcons’ basketball coach, who won his 1,000th career boys game last week. “There was a time when Prentiss and Union counties battled for the headlines.
“I’m not so sure the younger generation rivalry is quite as strong. Fortunately, I remember the Wheelers, Baldwyns and Boonevilles of old.”
The two Northeast Mississippi counties have combined to win 47 state championship in boys basketball – 31 Prentiss, 16 Union.
Ingomar won last year’s Class 1A state championship, the fifth boys gold ball in Ashley’s coaching career. The last Prentiss County boys team to win a state title was Wheeler in 1992.
“It’s about county pride,” said Baldwyn coach Jason McKay, who came up with the idea of the one-day tournament. “When you talk about basketball in this state, so much of it originated in Prentiss and Union county.
“There has been a tradition established.”
The games tip off at 1:30 p.m. with West Union playing Thrasher, followed by East Union against New Site at 3. Ingomar plays Wheeler at 4:30 in the day’s third game at East Union High School.
In the night session, Myrtle plays Booneville at 6 while New Albany battles Baldwyn at 7:30.
No ties this time
Six games were played the first season, 2009, while last year’s Clash was cancelled because of bad weather. In the inaugural event, the counties tied 3-3.
There will be no ties this year with a five-game schedule.
The final game between New Albany and Baldwyn – the county tournament champions – could determine who’s best this season.
“I know they’re going to guard us for 32 minutes,” New Albany coach Brad Gray said of Baldwyn’s four-guard lineup led by Reggie Patterson, who is avering 23.2 points per game. “They’re going to be physical and aggressive.”
Baldwyn’s McKay has to figure out a way to counter the Bulldogs’ height, including 6-foot-9 Moses Kingsley and 6-6 Tadarious Coburn, who leads the team with 16.5 points and 8.4 rebounds.
“They’re not just tall, they’re athletic,” McKay said. “We know they problems they present for us.”
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593