BRANDON SPECK: Area teams won gold balls, and respect, in Jackson

By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal

Thursday was a pretty good day for Northeast Mississippi teams in the 2013 MHSAA state basketball tournament.
After the H.W. Byers girls won yet another gold ball, Biggers-ville and its five new starters won the school’s first title since 1996 with a 62-53 win over Coldwater.
The Lions will enter next season as a favorite to win it again after losing only one senior to graduation, Blake Stacy.
Stacy wasn’t a starter, but…
“Don’t you dare print that we’re not losing anything, because we’re losing a big piece,” Biggersville coach Cliff Little said in a postgame press conference. “He is a special young man who has been a big spiritual leader for us. I’ve coached a long time and I’ve never coached a better person.”
New Site’s girls then lost a double-digit lead and a heartbreaker to Scott Central in 2A, but Baldwyn made sure Prentiss County didn’t leave Jackson without a championship.
The Bearcats finally got the monkey off their backs with a 66-46 win over Bassfield.
Baldwyn’s seniors have played in three state championship games. Coach Jason McKay says they’re all family, but one Baldwyn freshman can take that literally.
Freshman Conner McKay was one of several Bearcats who helped ease the load after Dee Gates’ season-ending ACL tear.
Jason McKay paused and appeared to hold back a tear when asked about an emotional hug he shared with Conner.
“Conner’s played since he was knee-high. I know how much he cares about it and loves it,” McKay said. “He had a great playoff run, just so grateful for Conner to be a part of this.”
Losers and winners
Friday wasn’t such a great day for teams in the Daily Journal’s circulation area.
Defending champion Pontotoc girls and the Corinth boys lost their games. So did 3A Booneville.
But the Blue Devils sort of won, too.
Velma Jackson pulled ahead late and with the game nearly decided, Falcons fans taunted Booneville’s student section, directly in front of them, just feet away.
Booneville administrators stood in protection in front of their students and no one tried to retaliate. Booneville didn’t win another championship, but its players and fans won a test of class, a win that will go further than any gold ball.
brandon.speck@journalinc.com