| Good job, cheerleaders
| Congratulations again to the South Panola competitive cheer squad. You almost work too hard, but it paid off.
I know that all the long hours you work just to perform for two and a half minutes and be better than so many others has to get to you sometime.
No matter what, you kept a smile on your face and never let anyone see you sweat.
You did South Panola and Batesville proud but more than that you did yourselves proud.
Thanks for sticking in there and making your dreams come true. This will be something you will never forget and neither will we.
Thanks for the great memories. Now get a little rest because tryouts are coming up for next year’s team and we need the returners to be great leaders for the new ones.
| Miss. Mustangs to host tournament/baseball clinic
| The Mississippi Mustangs 10 year old baseball team will hold its second annual Men’s Softball Tournament Fundraiser at Walter S. Trussell Park in Batesville on Saturday, March 11.
The deadline to enter the tournament is March 9, 2006 at 7 p.m. The entry fee is $130/team. ASA Rules, ASA sanctioned bats, 44 core, 375 compression softballs are required. Each team is responsible for supplying its own softballs, 4 homeruns and an out.
Contact Ricky Towles at 662-563-3499 (after 5:30 p.m.) or 662-934-3101.
The Mississippi Mustangs will also be sponsoring a youth baseball clinic on Saturday, March 11 at Walter S. Trussell Park from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
All boys between the ages 7-12 are encouraged to participate in this event. The cost is $35 per child.
A t-shirt will be given to the first 50 children who sign up for the baseball clinic. Hotdogs and water will be supplied. Sign-up begins at 8 a.m at Trussell Park under the Pavilion on Saturday.
To register in advance, please contact Deanna Towles at 662-654-0051 or 662-563-3499 after 5:30 p.m.
| Tigers play for district championship tonight
| By Myra Bean
Rod Moore had a footprint from the Horn Lake player who went up for the slam dunk and got a charge foul instead.
This "play of the game," as dubbed by South Panola head boys basketball coach Charlie Howard, stopped the Horn Lake momentum Tuesday night and assured the South Panola Tigers the 61-53 win to advance to the championship round Friday.
Moore, 5’10", established his position under the goal post and waited for the Eagle to make his move.
"He could have ducked out of the way," Howard said. "But he just stood there and took the charge."
The crowd went wild after the Eagle made the dunk but the officials called it off.
The Tigers led by as many as 18 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, 51-33. The Tigers had a 55-40 lead with 3:03 left in the game and seemed to be coasting to an easy end.
Tiger Rodney Gray scored his season best 30 points to lead the Tigers. Most of Gray’s points were scored in the paint as he hustled his way under the goal.
The Eagles were on a mission to avoid season ending elimination. They started a march which saw them only down by four, 56-52, with 45.4 seconds left in the game.
Horn Lake stole the inbound in route to a slam dunk when the Eagle slammed into Tiger Moore with 54.9 seconds left in the game.
The Eagles tried a sure method of trying to play catch up as they stole the ball numerous times and stopped the clock by fouling the Tigers seven times. Of the possible 14 points, the Tigers only scored five free throws.
The game was tense between these two teams throughout the first quarter. The Tigers jumped out to a 6-2 lead but the Eagles caught up and passed them and led 13-12 at the end of the first quarter.
There were five lead changes in the second quarter along with being tied at 16, 19 and 21. The Tigers broke the last tie and stayed ahead for good with 2:28 left in the first half on a Shawn Daniels field goal.
At the half, the Tigers led 32-24 and 49-33 at the end of the third quarter.
These two teams had split games during the regular season. Horn Lake defeated the Tigers 39-35 December 6 and the Tigers repaid the favor January 24, 51-37.
With this loss, Horn Lake is finished for the season.
Other Tiger scorers include Daniels and Joseph Hankins, 8 points each; Jarred Pope, 5 points; Justin Vaughn, 4 points; Moore and Larico Treadwell, 3 points each.
The Tigers will meet the upstart Southaven Chargers Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in the district championship game.
Southaven defeated the favored Olive Branch 64-60 Tuesday night, thus ended Olive Branch’s season.
This was only Southaven’s second win this season.
South Panola is the highest seeded team going into the game tonight and will be the home team even though the district games are being played in Southaven.
Madison Central defeated Vicksburg 46-43 Wednesday night. Greenville defeated Warren Central 66-64.
The winner of the South Panola/Southaven game will play the loser of the Madison Central/Greenville game on Tuesday at home. The loser of the first game will play the winner of the second game on the road.
If South Panola wins, they will be at home Tuesday night at 7 p.m. for the first round of the state playoffs.
| Lady Tigers to take the heat
| By Myra Bean
"They haven’t given us a chance to get in the skillet, before we are getting in the fire," said assistant softball coach John "J.D." Davis said in reference to the season opening softball game against Madison Central Tuesday afternoon.
The Lady Tigers will travel to take on the Lady Jaguars at 6 p.m. Madison Central lost in the North Half tournament last year to district foe Southaven, who went on to win the state championship.
This year, John Sherman will take the reigns as head coach of the Lady Tigers. Sherman is currently the assistant basketball coach for the girls and boys.
As for players, most of the core players are returning for the Lady Jaguars and the Lady Tigers. South Panola boasts only one senior this year, Summer Gee.
Eighteen players are on the Lady Tigers roster. In addition to Gee are Amanda "A.J." Hudson, Lauren Suratt, Leann Parrish, Lindsey Thaggard, Bethany moore, Casi Brooks, Ellen Farrish, Haylei Plummer, Kayla Roden, Whitney Kiihnl, Courtney Gordon, Haley Walton, Latara Ferrel, Hillari Plummer, Meredith Roberson, Chelsea Austin and Haley Hood.
"Madison Central has good pitchers," Davis said. "They have a third baseman that has already signed Division 1."
This is considered "a big game, morally" for the Lady Tigers.
Davis said, "It’s a big game in the sense, it is for us to go out and play well."
Davis said the team has had some really good preseason practices.
"We have made some great strides," he said. "Our team will still be fairly young. We have a big group of juniors and sophomores that will be good players. It is just getting started on the right foot."
When the polls are released, which will probably be within the next week, Davis expects Madison to be put near the top.
The Lady Tigers did play Madison Central last year but lost 4-0.
"I believe a lot of our games will be low scoring and this could be a low scoring game, too," Davis said.
Madison Central is scheduled to open its season tomorrow and Davis considers that a disadvantage.
Tuesday’s game will be the Lady Tigers’ first game and Madison’s second game.
"I was kind of nervous it being our first game, but now I will use it as a measuring stick because we will play Madison here halfway through the season," Davis said. "We know they will get better. How much better will we get?"
To Davis each game will be important to the team.
"One game is not going to outweigh another game to us," he added. "This game is just as important as Oxford game."
South Panola will be on the road again Thursday, February 23 to face the Oxford Lady Chargers.
The Chargers have a new coach this year. He is the brother of South Panola assistant baseball coach, Amir Hunt.
Davis talked to the Oxford coach and he reported Oxford had a lot of girls come out of tryouts.
"They have been down for the last two years," Davis said. "They look to be on the upswing. Oxford is a baseball/fastpitch town."
Davis announced the team has a total of 29 games and none are "gimmees."
"I told the girls, we will take it one game at a time, one pitch at a time, one hit at a time and one run at a time," Davis said.
| SP ladies, NP teams end basketball season
| By Myra Bean
The season ended in a big disappointing way for the South Panola Lady Tigers Tuesday night.
The Lady Tigers, seeded fourth in the district, lost to number one seeded Olive Branch, 67-31.
The Lady Tigers never could get a scoring spree going as Olive Branch led 14-8 at the end of the first quarter and 34-15 at halftime.
Kim Sanford and Courtney N. Jones led the Lady Tigers with 8 points each. Other scorers include Shanice Williams and Courtney D. Jones, 4 points each; Celeste Cole, Sabrina Townsend and Vetorra Cole, 2 points each; and Skylar Barnes, 1 point.
In the other game, Southaven defeated Horn Lake 54-41. Southaven and Olive Branch will meet for the district championship at 6 p.m. tonight.
Both North Panola teams had their seasons ended in the first round of district action.
The boys lost to Senatobia in a nail biter Monday night 60-57. The girls lost to Senatobia Tuesday night, 69-31. The Cougars had defeated Senatobia both times in regular season play. January 17, the Cougars won 69-35 and January 31, the Cougars came out the victors 72-60.
Monday night Senatobia found a reason not to give up and end the Cougars’ season. Jeremy Johnson scored a season high 25 points as the scoring leader, but noticeably missing from the scoring was Roderick Jefferson. Jefferson had been the leading scorer through most of the district season.
Senatobia led throughout the game and at the end of the first quarter 12-10 and at halftime 27-21. The Cougars were able to keep the game close and was down by only three at the end of the third quarter, 43-40. When they needed to make up that deficit, they were not able to as both teams scored 17 points in the final quarter.
Also scoring in double figures for the Cougars was Rodregus Black with 12 points. Other scorers include Mario Finley, 8 points; Bruce Wilbourn, 6 points; Vanarderick Reed, Josh Callicutt and Jaqualin Dean, 2 points each.
| No. 5 Nationally Ranked South Panola Cheerleaders
| ‘Payday was well worth the wait,’ says coach
| The South Panola competitive cheerleaders in their final position at the finals include: Ashlie Mason, Jessica Kelsay Chasity Jones, NeNe Woodall, Allie Ware, Bianca Smith, Kristin Geeslin, Krystin Allen, Kasey Kelsay, Nikki Dillon, Ashleigh Austin, Ashleigh Mason, McKenzie West, Ashley Robison, Jessica Fellows, Hannah Jacobs, Olivia Vick, Allie Dungan, CiCi Carver, Traci Locke, Shelby Patterson, Brittany Taylor, Keila Duarte, Mary Wilson, Haley Crawford, Hillari Plummer, Joy Boyette and Jessica Durham. Coaches are Tammy Wilkinson, Trey Griffin, Angela Hannaford and Misty Kilgore.
| By Myra Bean
Tammy Wilkinson, with the sacrifice of the girls and their parents, have been putting together a nationally competitive team for eight years.
"Payday was well worth the wait," Wilkinson wrote in an email. "Eight years of my heart and soul has gone into building this program."
Many girls have tried out and gone through the program but only this squad has realized the dream of being named in the top five cheering squads in the nation.
"I’m still floating and so are the girls," Wilkinson said. "I can’t tell you what this is to our program."
South Panola finished as the No. 5 cheer squad in the Super category at the Universal Cheerleading Association National Competition last weekend.
They made it to the finals after Saturday’s performance and was No. 5 after the final performance on Sunday.
The program is about two and a half minutes long that the squad has spent every week since last March or April working on and perfecting.
The cheering squad has been ranked No. 10 and No. 9 in recent years but did not make the finals last year.
In her email, Wilkinson always ends with, "That which does not kill us, only makes us stronger."
The cheerleader’s show will be shown on ESPN April 9.
See a letter from a fan who attended the nationals in this week’s Opinions.
| SP Diamond Tigers ready
| By Myra Bean
The whack of the balls will become more serious as baseball in Panola County prepares to get underway.
The South Panola baseball team will open its season first, barring bad weather, at Desoto Central Saturday at 2 p.m.
This will be Desoto Central’s first year of having seniors on the team.
"We played them and were able to beat them last year in a close game," said Tiger head baseball coach Patrick Robey.
Robey is in his fourth year of coaching at South Panola.
The Desoto Central Jaguars competed in 1A the last two years and moved up to 4A during realignment last year.
"They did real well considering they didn’t have any upperclassmen," Robey said. "They are very strong pitching wise. They will be able to throw several guys on the mound that will give them a chance to win. So it will be a good game."
Coaching the Jaguars is Shane Faulkner, formerly of Batesville. Robey compared Faulkner’s attitude to his.
"I know his attitude is a lot like mine," Robey said. "He feels like this is his chance to have a really strong team."
Desoto Central had a lot of juniors last year and are playing with the same players they have had the last few years, according to Robey.
Then Tuesday, the Tigers will play their home opener against Cleveland in the annual Wes Smythe Classic. Smythe was a standout player for South Panola and died while a student at Mississippi State University. The games are at 5 and 7 p.m.
Robey said Cleveland is not traditionally the most athletic ballclub they will meet, but they are very well-coached.
"They don’t make mistakes," Robey said. "You have to beat them. They won’t beat themselves. They know how to play the game."
Cleveland has always been a strong team in 3A last year and will probably be in 4A, according to Robey.
Twenty-five players make up the Tiger roster. Some pitchers Robey will rely on this year are Heath Bolton, Barrett Johnson, Kyle Crofford and Colton Ales.
Some outfielders include centerfielder Jonathan Flint, leftfielder Crofford, rightfielders Bolton and Johnson, depending on who is pitching.
Infielders include third baseman David Renfroe, shortstop Jameson Rodgers or Tyler Benson, second baseman Lance Hendrix or Benson, and first baseman Josh Boren or Ethan Bright.
Catchers are Mitchell Houston and Bud Barthold.
Other players include Cody Alford, Bryce Belvin, Dane Broome, Robby Brown, Coty Bryant, Brian Fortner, Monroe Harrison, Dearlo Miles, Corbin Moore, Marty Stokes, Brandon Taylor and Whit Whitten.
Assistant coaches include Chim Stogner, Drew McGehee, Brad Lightsey and Amir Hunt.
"We like our chances," Robey said. "It will be a dogfight from day one, but our guys are prepared."
| ND baseball opens Monday
| By Myra Bean
The North Delta baseball team is geared up and ready to go Monday afternoon.
A change in venue has been slated for the first game of the season. Lee, Ark. will be coming to Batesville to open both teams’ seasons.
Lee is working on its field and hopefully will be ready to host the Green Wave on Thursday.
Green Wave head coach David Hardy has announced a few changes in the coaching staff. Former assistant Ronald McMinn is sticking to his guns to retire and John Howell Jr. will be assisting the baseball team this season.
Four returning seniors who got a lot of playing time last year include Chris Pike, Pittman Harrison, Bryce Raddatz and Dustin Maples.
"They have played all their years since I have been here," Hardy said.
Hunter Darby and Matthew Locke are seniors who have joined the team this year.
Hardy said the majority of those guys will have multiple roles, position roles as well as pitching.
As for the rest of the team, there are two juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen who will play on both the junior high and varsity teams.
Two eighth graders will possibly see playing time with both squads, maybe even a seventh grader.
Additional team members include Austin Atkinson, Josh Ratliff, Jim Tyler Dalrymple, Matthew Pike, Bateman Greenlee, Taylor Herron, Britt Lawrence, Bill Gurley, Geri Lamm, Mitchel Babb, Jim Tom Copeland, Michael Magee, Cody Gray, Kyle Devazier, Austin Gant, Tyler Toole, Will Dunlap and Anthony Pike.
After the two games with Lee, Marvell will be in Batesville on Friday. In these three games, only the varsity will play. The junior high will not play until district games begin.
This will be the first meeting between Lee and North Delta in baseball. The game was rained out last year. Coming with Lee is a familiar name in Landon Bullard, who plays in all sports.
"He is a good athlete for them," Hardy said. "Bullard is the catcher and a pretty strong hitter for them."
As for Marvell, the Green Waves played them last year and got two wins. Marvell had a young team, according to Hardy.
"I expect them to be a little more experienced this year," he said.
As for some more changes around the home baseball games, Hardy said having a full time concession stand is hopefully in the works with help from the Booster Club and staff at the school.
"In the past we have not had one open during baseball season," he said. "I am hoping it will come through."
Also changes are planned in the way the gate fees will be collected. The school is planning to have a table set up for people to pay when they enter the park.
"In the past we have had someone go around and take up the money, once the game got started," Hardy said. "This year we’re hoping to make it a little more structured and official."
Admission prices are $4 for adults and $3 for students.
Game time for all three games is 4 p.m.
| Powerhouse Quistors fall
| By Myra Bean
The face of the 1-5A high school basketball district has changed forever this season as undisputed leader Olive Branch lost to Southaven, 64-60, in the first round of the district tournament, thus ending the Conquistador season.
Olive Branch (21-7) has dominated this district all season long and had only one divisional loss to South Panola on December 15, 64-63.
Southaven entered the game with only one win throughout the entire season.
In previous games this season, Olive Branch had defeated Southaven 66-49 on January 6 and again 65-49 on January 20.
The Chargers struggled early, and were down 21-12 after the first quarter, and 35-30 at the half.
Whatever the coach said at halftime worked as in the second half, the Chargers outscored the Conquistadors 18-9 in the third quarter to take a 48-44 lead at the end of the quarter and did whatever was necessary to maintain the lead through the end of the game.
The matchup Friday night for the district championship will be between South Panola (20-6) and Southaven (2-25) at 7:30 p.m. at Southaven.
The South Panola Tigers defeated Horn Lake (18-9) Tuesday night 61-53 to advance and ended the Horn Lake season.
In girls’ action, the South Panola Lady Tigers (10-16) had their season ended in a 67-31 loss to Olive Branch (20-8).
The Southaven Lady Chargers (17-10) upset the Horn Lake Lady Eagles (20-10) Tuesday night 54-41 to advance to the district championship.
All first and second place teams automatically advanced to the state playoffs. The girls will begin Monday and the boys will begin Tuesday.
If South Panola wins Friday, they will play the first round of the playoffs at home Tuesday. If they lose, they will be on the road.
In Tuesday action in 3-3A, the North Panola boys had their season ended by Senatobia 60-57. North Panola had defeated Senatobia two times this season.
In other 5A action, Grenada boys upset Tupelo 69-62 and Starkville defeated Columbus 47-42. The district games are played in Tupelo.
In girls’ action, Tupelo defeated Columbus 67-43 and Starkville defeated Grenada, 53-43.