MHS invades Wayne County for showdowns

By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Feb. 5, 2001
To put it bluntly, the only thing that really matters for the Meridian High and Wayne County basketball teams is what they do in the upcoming Division 5-5A Tournament.
But don't try telling that to any of the players.
Meridian visits Wayne County Tuesday in a division showdown that is sure to pack the gymnasium in Waynesboro, and in a contest that highlights this week's prep basketball action in The Meridian Star's coverage area.
This is the final week of the regular season for public school teams in Mississippi. But there are still a few seedings to be secured for next week's division tournaments, and there are some interesting non-division matchups, as well. There are no matchups more interesting, however, than the one at Waynesboro Tuesday.
Wayne County's boys have just two losses on their mark this season, and the War Eagles have handed unranked Meridian (22-6) two of the Wildcats' losses.
There are a few points involved in the tiebreaker, but Tuesday's matchup basically could be a winner-take-all scenario for the regular-season crown.Both of Wayne County's wins over Meridian came before the Wildcats had access to team members who also play football including starting post player Jeremy Ruffin.
The matchup is also the third time former MHS head man Geary Jackson who is enjoying a banner season in his return to Wayne County has gone up against his former team.
The girls' game could also be a dandy, as it pits a pair of Top 10 teams. Meridian's third-ranked Lady Wildcats have handled the Lady War Eagles both times this season, but this will be the first time Gina Skelton's 21-5 bunch has gotten MHS on Wayne County's home floor.
There are other big matchups Tuesday, like the one in Collinsville that pits Kemper County against West Lauderdale.
Kemper's boys are 5-0 in Division 5-3A and are riding a 10-game winning streak. But the Wildcats could still finish as low as third.
Should West beat Kemper County, there will be a three-way tie for first place in the division between those two teams and Velma Jackson. A Kemper win gives the Wildcats the top seed for the upcoming division tourney.
West's girls also need a victory to avoid a slip to sixth in the division standings. A win likely gives the Lady Knights the No. 4 seed.
Noxubee County goes to Kosciusko and Neshoba Central visits New Hope in Division 2-4A, while Carthage is at Newton County Tuesday in a 5-3A game, and division rivals Choctaw Central and Velma Jackson hook up in non-division action.
There are a host of other big non-division games Tuesday, as well, including Forest at Newton, Philadelphia at Union, Quitman at Southeast Lauderdale, Heidelberg at Laurel and Columbus at Louisville.
Scott Central visits the Mississippi School for the Deaf in Thursday's only action in the area, but things heat up again Friday.
Southeast visits Carthage in 5-3A, and Aberdeen is at Neshoba and Noxubee County at West Point in 2-4A in the only division games.
The non-division slate is heavy, however, as Meridian goes to Jackson Provine, Northeast Lauderdale hosts Kemper County, Quitman is at Clarkdale, Scott Central at Enterprise, Union at Newton County, South Leake at Newton High, Loyd Star at Choctaw Central, Bay Springs at Mendenhall, Philadelphia at Noxapater, Wayne County at Gulfport, Louisville at Starkville, Northeast Jones at Heidelberg and Forest hosts Morton in a Scott County showdown.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at