By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
Dexter Stafford isn’t walking through that door. Well, actually, he probably is to watch, but he can’t play basketball for the Biggersville Lions.
A year after losing in the MHSAA Class 1A state championship game, Biggersville lost its leading scorer, Stafford, and its entire starting crew. Still, the Lions are back in the MHSAA Class 1A state tournament semifinals.
“This bunch, all of them, they’re confident and expect to win,” Biggersville coach Cliff Little said. “We didn’t play well in the North finals but these kids are resilient and know they have a job to do. I don’t think they’ll be too wide-eyed.”
The Lions went cold late in a North championship loss to Coldwater, the team it beat in last year’s North finals and lost to in the state championship.
Stafford, Darrien Williams, Tevin Watson, Blake Anderson, Tee Watson and Chris Bishop all made up the starting five and all graduated.
A group of juniors are among the new pride – and a lot are family members – Daniel and Emmanuel Simmons, Jaylon Gaines, Marquis and Shaun Watson. Blake Stacy is the only senior and is a constant leader, Little says.
Biggersville (26-8) takes on South state champion West Lincoln Friday at 2:30 p.m. in Jackson at Mississippi Coliseum.
“They shoot it really well,” said Little, who led East Webster to a 1A state title in 2008. “They start two kids, 6-7 and 6-5. Pick your poison. They’re big in the post and can shoot from outside.”
West Lincoln is 31-3 and gets 15 points a game from Duane Marshall and Jared Case, both guards.
Biggersville hasn’t shied away from competition. Three of the Lions’ losses have come to Class 4A semifinalist and Alcorn County neighbor Corinth. They lost to 2A semifinalist Baldwyn.
Biggersville beat both Cleveland East Side and New Albany, as well as 3A semifinalist Booneville.
“They’re quick. They push it so well. Jaylon is a shooter. Daniel is a shooter…” Corinth coach Keith Greene said. “You’ve got your hands full when you play them.”