Prentiss County’s time of year

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

Prentiss County once proudly billed itself as the “Basketball Capital of the Universe,” and why not?
From 1925 to 1992, high school boys basketball teams from the county – Wheeler (11), Baldwyn (7), New Site (7), Booneville (4), Jumpertown (1), Thrasher (1) and Marietta (1) – brought home a once-record 31 state championships.
That total now stands at 32 thanks to Booneville’s win in 2011. The Blue Devils and rival Baldwyn Bearcats could make it 33 and 34 next week with wins in Class 3A and 2A.
Don’t look for any program to make a state title run quite like New Site’s Royals, who captured gold balls five consecutive seasons – 1965-69 – under the late Gerald Caveness.
Baldwyn coach Jason McKay played on the Bearcats’ last two title teams in 1986 and ‘87. This may be the program’s best shot at winning an eighth gold ball.
Booneville, coached by Michael Smith, a former New Site Royals player, is gunning for its second state crown in three seasons. Smith has one of the state’s top players in his lineup in high-flying Kenny Paul Geno.
The county’s banner season came in 1969 when New Site (B), Thrasher (BB) and Baldwyn (A) won state championships. The Royals beat AA champion Jackson Wingfield to win the Grand Slam.
NEW SITE SUCCESS
Let’s not forget the Prentiss County girls. New Site won the county’s first state championship last season, bringing home the 2A gold ball.
Coach Byron Sparks’ Lady Royals – with their loyal fan following – return to Jackson this week as the favorite to win a second straight championship.
This is New Site’s fifth consecutive trip to the Big House.
Prentiss County basketball – best in the universe? In 2013, the county’s three tournament entries would settle for being “Best in the state.”
HILL COUNTRY CHAMPS
The following is from a list of Mississippi high school boys basketball state champions compiled by former Wheeler standout player Jerry Keeton.
Keeton, who later played at Mississippi State, will gladly point out that Union County boys teams have won just 16 state championships.

Prentiss County boys’ Success
State Championships: 32
Wheeler: 1925, 1926, 1929, 1955, 1959, 1970, 1980, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992
Baldwyn: 1932, 1948, 1964, 1969, 1975, 1986, 1987
New Site: 1945, 1946, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969
Booneville: 1949, 1950, 1963, 2011
Marietta: 1950
Thrasher: 1969
Jumpertown: 1971

Union County boys’ Success
State Championships: 16
New Albany: 1977, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1997
Ingomar: 1978, 1979, 1999, 2002, 2009
West Union: 1967, 1970, 1975
East Union: 1981
Myrtle: 1997
Macedonia: 1944