By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Byron Sparks knows his success the last five seasons at New Site can be attributed to his players.
“We’ve had a lot of good players come through this program and we’re winning because we’ve had good players,” he said.
New Site (31-4) plays Scott Central and high-scoring Victoria Vivians at 7 p.m. today in the MHSAA Class 2A state tournament’s championship game at the Mississippi Coliseum.
The Lady Royals are defending state champions.
This season’s team is led by senior guard Christy Clark, who averages 14 points per game. Her sister, Cara, was a member of New Site’s successful 2009 team. He father, Ronald, is the school’s former boys basketball coach.
“She has a high basketball IQ,” Sparks said. “She’s an all-around player, who does what we need her to do. She could average more, but we don’t have to go to her to win. We share the ball.
“She’s fine with that as long as we’re winning.”
Clark has committed to Blue Mountain College and is expected to sign following the season.
IT STARTED IN 2009
New Site’s successful streak started in 2009 behind the play of Bree Harris, Carleigh King and newcomer Krystal Jackson. The team finished 30-7 and reached the state tournament for the first time in the program’s history.
Behind Jackson, Clark and former players Darrah Pharr and Morgan Pearson, the Lady Royals have compiled a 149-22 record and reached three state championship games, winning one. This year’s game marks their fourth trip to the finals.
“That 2009, 2010 group turned the corner for us,” Sparks said. “They set the bar pretty high.”
The next star in New Site’s lineup is 6-foot sophomore sixth man Grace Elliott, who has played well since returning to the team after an injury layoff.
To win a second state title, New Site must find a way to handle Vivians, who averages 40 points per game.
“We’re going to make sure we contest everything she puts up,” Sparks said. “We’re aware of what she’s capable of doing; we’re not going to stop her. We can make her work for it … and hopefully, outscore her.”