Notebook: Lions become legends with win

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

Biggersville won its first state championship since 1996 with Thursday’s 62-53 win against Coldwater.
Junior Darian Barnett’s dad was on that team, as were plenty of cousins and relatives of the current pride of Lions.
“What I told them is, “Win this game and they’ll forevermore be legends in Biggersville,” Biggersville coach Cliff Little said. “People always talk about the ‘96 team. Well, now they’re always going to be talking about the ‘13 team. They closed the book on being the best. They are the best. There’s not many times in life that you can say you’re the best.”
Madison McCreless was confident her teammates from H.W. Byers could win a third consecutive state championship without her in the lineup.
Still, the Lady Lions’ leading scorer this season wasn’t about to watch the game from the sideline.
McCreless, a senior forward, played nine minutes Thursday in the 1A state championship game against Hinds AHS with a broken bone in her left foot. She played with a special metal brace inserted in her Nike shoe to keep her foot from flexing.
“It meant everything to me to be out there. This was our last time to play together,” said McCreless, whose teammates helped her limp into the postseason interview room.
She suffered the injury in the North state semifinals and missed two games.
Byers coach Jason Thompson fully expected McCreless to provide some minutes in the finals. “She told me, ‘Coach, I’m playing.’”
New Site’s 52-49 loss to Victoria Vivians and Scott Central in the Class 2A state championship game was a bitter one for the Lady Royals.
Scott Central, behind Vivians’ 3-point shooting, rallied from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
The defending state champions were playing in their fourth consecutive state title game. It was their third loss.
“We’re at a point in our program where second is not good enough,” a frustrated coach Byron Sparks said postgame. “Winning would have been the only positive.”
H.W. Byers returns to Class 2A next season after a four-year tenure in 1A.
The Lady Lions won three state basketball championships in 1A and two in 2A before moving down in classification in 2009.
“We’ve done it (won) before in 2A,” Byers coach Jason Thompson said. “It’s a new challenge. We will step up to the plate.”
Baldwyn’s state title was the program’s first since the Bearcats won back-to-back gold balls in 1986 and ‘87 with today’s coach, Jason McKay, playing point guard.
McKay coaches with the same all-out passion he had as a player.
Late in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s win against Bassfield, with his team leading by 20 points, he was yelling to his players: “It’s not over, keep playing.”

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