Division 5-3A heats up, local private schools winding down

By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
JAN. 22, 2001
Division races are heating up for the area's public schools, while the regular season is winding down for private-school teams in The Meridian Star's coverage area.
Brackets for each of the area's MPSA division tournaments which are scheduled for next week are basically set.
In fact, the only area division game among private schools this week is in DeKalb tonight, where Kemper Academy hosts Wayne Academy in a Division 3-A matchup.
The contests, which were postponed from last Thursday when Kemper Academy shut down for two days because of the flu, should have little or no effect on the 3-A standings.
The rest of the week for local MPSA schools will be spent playing non-division contests in an effort to tune up for next week's postseason tournaments.
On the public school scene, however, the action couldn't get much hotter than it is in Division 5-3A.
Last year, 5-3A produced five 20-win girls' teams and a balanced boys' division that kept fans glued to the race for the season's final month. This season, it could be even better.
Right now, those teams are jockeying for seeds in the tourney, which is scheduled for Southeast Lauderdale next month.
The girls' side of the race may be even better than last year. Choctaw's 20-3 Lady Warriors are 4-0 in the league, but they have to go to Kemper County Tuesday and then to 20-2 Newton County which is also unbeaten in division play on Friday.
Southeast and West Lauderdale, as well as Velma Jackson, are all knocking on the 20-win door as well, and still have plenty to say as far as the division race is concerned.
On the boys' side, Kemper County handed Velma Jackson its first division loss last Friday, and the Wildcats (2-0 in 5-3A) have a big one at home Tuesday night against an improving Choctaw Central team that is 2-2 in the division.
Another big boys' showdown is Friday at Velma, where West Lauderdale (13-13 overall but 3-0 in division play) takes on the host Falcons, who enter the week 19-4.
Here's a brief rundown of this week's biggest high school basketball games:
Tonight: In addition to the Wayne at Kemper Academy matchup, Lamar School hosts Heidelberg Academy tonight, while Lake is at the Mississippi School for the Deaf and Nanih Waiya entertains Red Water.
Tuesday: Choctaw goes to Kemper and Newton County visits Carthage in a pair of Division 5-3A showdowns, while Noxubee County entertains Louisville in a couple of entertaining Division 2-4A tilts.
There are a host of big non-division games Tuesday, including Meridian High at Neshoba Central, Wayne County at Quitman and West Lauderdale at cross-county rival Northeast.
Tuesday's other big games have Clarkdale hosting Newton, Enterprise at Taylorsville and Bay Springs at Morton in Division 7-2A; Heidelberg at Collins and Prentiss at Forest in Division 7-3A; Williams-Sullivan at Philadelphia in 5-2A; Union at Noxapater in 5-1A; and Lamar School hosting Heritage Academy and Patrician Academy at South Choctaw Academy in non-division action.
Thursday: Nanih Waiya is at Weir, Leake Academy goes to Oak Hill and Newton County Academy visits East Rankin in Thursday's only action involving area teams.
Friday: Three of the biggest girls' showdowns in the state will take place within a 30-mile radius of Meridian Friday night when Newton County hosts Choctaw Central in a battle of 5-3A unbeatens; defending Class 1A state champ Scott Central entertains seemingly unstoppable Lake in a division battle; and Neshoba Central hosts the highly-touted Lady Falcons of Class 5A power Columbus.
Meridian visits Brandon Friday in a Division 5-5A matchup, while West Lauderdale goes to Camden for two 5-3A showdowns with Velma Jackson.
Friday's other big contests have Quitman hosting Laurel and Northeast Lauderdale going to South Jones in Division 5-4A; Louisville at New Hope in 2-4A; Philadelphia hosting West Lowndes in 5-2A; Heidelberg at Magee and Forest at McLaurin in 7-3A; and Southeast Lauderdale hosting Union, Sumter Academy at South Choctaw Academy and Enterprise at Choctaw County in non-division action.
Saturday: The prep hoops week winds down Saturday with a Jasper County showdown at Bay Springs, where the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs entertain Heidelberg; and with the Broiler Classic at Forest, a one-day showcase which has a lineup including the host Bearcats and Lady Bearcats, as well as the Southeast Lauderdale girls.
Saturday's other games have Lake hosting Edinburg and Wayne County visiting South Jones.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rhigginbotham@themeridianstar.com.

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