BRANDON SPECK: Prentiss County jams gym for basketball

By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal

JUMPERTOWN – Southern Sentinel sports writer Kedrick Storey summed it up perfectly when he said coaches and players in the Prentiss County Tournament coached and played like there was a gold ball on the line.
Approximately 1,500 people piled into every nook and cranny of the maybe 1,100-seat Jumpertown gym last Saturday for the 2013 finals.
What they saw were three teams that were in the state tournament a season ago. One was New Site’s girls, who won Class 2A. The Lady Royals flexed and beat Baldwyn for their sixth straight Prentiss title.
State runners-up Baldwyn and Booneville put on a show in the boys final. Martell Brown gave Baldwyn a one-point lead with 10 seconds to play. But Booneville avenged a one-point county championship loss last season on Jordan Miller’s putback as time expired.
Some missed it, but not because they wanted to. The house was full shortly after 4 p.m., two hours before the girls champion-ship.
Prentiss County junior varsity teams still play for their county title as well, and for the Baldwyn-Booneville JV game, the crowd was louder than some places get for varsity division games.
There were coaches from all over, some to scout, most to watch.
Tupelo, Biggersville, Nettleton and Blue Mountain all had coaches there. The only seat Blue Mountain coach David Mason could find was on the floor, literally on the floor underneath the basket.
Chairs lined three sides of the court with a full row of people standing behind them. People sat on the floor in front of the chairs one each baseline.
Baldwyn’s team arrived in time to go to the locker room, knowing there was nowhere to sit if they got there early. They walked in to a rain of boos on Booneville’s side.
The New Site and Baldwyn girls left their locker rooms with nowhere to sit and watch the boys. There was nowhere to sit or stand. All four corner exits were filled with people standing on their toes to get a glimpse.
One roll-away goal in the corner had two people all but hanging from the rim to watch.
Jumpertown overcame its Class 1A-sized gym with Class 6A hospitality for what was a reminder of just how much basketball means to North Mississippi.
brandon.speck@journalinc.com