‘Why doncha call it both ways.”
“It’s about time you called that; he’s been killing him all night.”
Those are two of my favorite printable cheers for referees. Referees will tell you it is amazing how regular and monotonous the complaints that are yelled at them are.
And as a sportswriter, talking to losing coaches, the one quote I never take down is: “You were watching that game. You saw what was going on. All I want is a fair chance for us to win.”
Coaches who constantly ride officials can rarely prove their gripes as legitimate. However, Dr. Ennis Proctor of the Mississippi High School Activities Association says there have been some officials suspended because of proven problems.
Still, the MHSAA comes down hard when a coach pulls a team off the field or floor because he is allowing the emotions of the moment to control the game. It had happened twice before this school year, and I thought, well it’s happening “over there” in the rest of the state.
Sadly, last week Bruce coach Willie Ray Brown got caught up in that moment, and he pulled his Trojans out in the third period while trailing Oxford 71-37 last week. He said he was protesting officiating.
He is fortunate that he has received strong support from his principal Ricky Vaughn as the Trojans (13-13) became the third team this year placed on probation with the school and coach both fined.
Looking at the brackets for the Division 2-2A tournament at South Pontotoc, with Ashland and Potts Camp, I don’t think Bruce wouldn’t have had a chance. Sadly, we’ll never know (see below); Brown is a good coach and the team was coming together.
Every year there is a big upset at the starts of the playoffs. Never in my wildest imaginations would I have predicted that Belmont’s Lady Cardinals would be the team to be involved in an upset well not as the team pulling the upset.
Watching the Belmont Lady Cardinals (8-16) win as the underdog Monday was one of those moments that make sportswriting fun.
This has been a season of payback for a lot of teams that have been regular victims of the Lady Cardinals during a 13-year run that included five state championships under coach Malcolm Kuykendall.
Now young coach Eddie Moreland has stepped in with the unenviable task of filling those boots.
I hate that the Baldwyn Lady Bearcats had to be on the receiving end. They had a fun squad to watch and I’ll miss not getting to see them play again this year. However, except for point guard NeNe Pippin, the combination will be back: Angie Antillon the power hustler, shooters Shona Agnew and Shana Woodruff, and center Jamie Bender. Jamie is carrying on a family tradition in athletics that includes grandfather Willie Bender, a former Lady Bearcat coach, and aunt Teena Bender, a former player both at Baldwyn and with the Ole Miss Lady Rebels.
“It seemed like Belmont had the rose on the rim, and we couldn’t get it to go in,” Baldwyn coach Mike Cartwright said.
But that also makes the upset that much, bigger. This Baldwyn team (23-6) handed the area’s No. 1 Oxford Lady Chargers only their second loss of the season.
Belmont won in a typical Belmont fashion. None of the players really stand out, really star. You are impressed with their hustle as fans holler out coaching instructions, but you think they don’t belong out there till you look at the scoreboard. Pow, they are winning.
Three seniors Sandy Wigginton, Amy Humphries and Ellen Thompson and talented sophomore Kamiya Thorn, who promises Belmont a future, inflicted the major damage against Baldwyn.
Almost makes me wish for one of the good old-fashion playoff runs where Belmont and Hatley dog each other down the playoff trail. Naw, never happen, too many upsets, even for a Belmont.
This could be a sparse year for area teams in the state tournaments in Jackson. The play-in game of the North Mississippi Tournaments pits Division 1 and Division 2 teams against each other. No more than two area teams will survive to the tournament, except in Class 1A, where the area has three of four North divisions.