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Nine local teams advance to MHSAA state tournament

By Staff
LISTEN UP n Noxubee County head girls' coach Narvel Colemon goes over a play with Erlexis Cooper during last weekend's North State Tournament. The Lady Tigers face Stone County at 1 p.m. Thursday in the Class 4A MHSAA state basketball tournament. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
Feb. 26, 2001
Basketball, especially girls' basketball, must have been pretty good in the area this year as nine teams have qualified for the Mississippi High School Activities Association's state tournament which begins today in Jackson.
Seven of this year's nine area teams to reach state are girls' teams Meridian, Neshoba Central, Noxubee County, Southeast Lauderdale, Choctaw Central, Bay Springs and Lake.
The two boys' teams to make it are Newton and South Leake.
Only in 1992 and 1994, when 10 teams qualified, have more area teams headed to the Big House in the last 22 years.
Three of the nine teams won't waste any time getting there as they have quarterfinal games today.
Richard Rivers' South Leake team begins defense of its Class 2A state championship at 2:30 p.m., when the 33-2 Wildcats take on Okolona's 23-11 Chieftains.
If South Leake gets past Okolona, the Wildcats would play Hinds AHS, 29-6, Friday at 8 p.m. in the semifinals in a rematch of last year's state championship.
Hinds beat South Leake 85-77 Friday night in a 2A South State semifinal at Utica, ending the Wildcats' 29-game win streak.
The 26-11 Lady Bulldogs of Bay Springs meet Baldwyn, 27-5, tonight at 6:30. A Bay Springs win would return the Lady Bulldogs to Jackson Saturday for a semifinal matchup with Belmont, 36-2, at 1 p.m. Bay Springs is making its first trip to state since 1998.
Ed McGowan's 27-10 Newton Tigers conclude first-day play when they square off with Greenville O'Bannon, 26-9, at 8 p.m. Newton is making its first trip to state since 1995. A Newton win tonight would send the Tigers into a semifinal contest with 36-1 Broad Street of Shelby Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Choctaw Central's 30-4 Lady Warriors will need an early wakeup call Tuesday as they will face Independence, 30-5, at 9 a.m. in Class 3A action. The Lady Warriors are making their fifth trip to state in the last six years, winning 2A state championships in 1996, 1997, and 1999.
Southeast Lauderdale's 30-8 Lady Tigers await the Choctaw Central-Independence winner for a 6:30 semifinal contest on Saturday. It will be Southeast's first appearance in the Big House since 1997 after also going in 1986, 1987, 1988, and 1994.
Wednesday finds Neshoba Central's 27-10 Lady Rockets taking on George County's 24-9 Lady Rebels at 6:30 p.m. For Neshoba, the trip to state is the Lady Rockets' first since 1998 and their fifth in 22 years. The 1991 team won a 4A state championship, while the 1990 team was state runner-up.
Ironically, the 1980 Lady Rockets opened state tournament play with a 49-43 loss to a Janice Lawrence-led George County team. Lawrence went on to put Louisiana Tech women's basketball on the map.
On Thursday, Noxubee County's 29-6 Lady Tigers face Stone County, 17-13, at 1 p.m. Noxubee is making its 14th trip to state in 20 years with the Lady Tigers winning it all in 1993 and 1994 after placing second in 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, and 1992. It will be the first trip to the Big House for Narvel Colemon's team since 1998.
The 31-4 Meridian Lady Wildcats will be making their seventh-straight state tournament appearance on March 5 when Donald Shirley's group takes on the Columbus-Provine winner at 6:30 p.m.
In Class 1A, Bill Ingersoll's 32-3 Lady Hornets of Lake won't see their first action until March 7 when they meet the Ethel-Durant winner at 6:30 p.m. Lake's last trip to state was in 1998.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at
MHSAA State Tournament Schedule at Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson
Monday – South Leake boys (33-2) vs. Okolona (23-11), 2:30
Monday – Bay Springs girls (26-11) vs. Baldwyn (27-5), 6:30
Monday – Newton boys (27-10) vs. O'Bannon (26-9), 8:00
Tuesday – Choctaw Central girls (30-4) vs. Independence (30-5), 9:00 a.m.
Wednesday – Neshoba Central girls (27-10) vs. George County (24-9), 6:30
Thursday – Noxubee County girls (29-6) vs. Stone County (17-13), 1:00
Friday – South Leake-Okolona boys winner vs. Hinds AHS (29-6), 8:00
Saturday – Bay Springs-Baldwyn girls winner vs. Belmont (36-2), 1:00
Saturday – Newton-O'Bannon boys winner vs. Broad Street (36-1), 2:30
Saturday – Southeast Lauderdale girls (30-8) vs. Choctaw Central-Independence winner, 6:30
March 5 – Meridian girls (31-4) vs. Provine-Columbus winner, 6:30
March 6 – Neshoba Central-George County girls winner vs. Crystal Springs (26-10), 6:30
March 7 – Lake girls (32-3) vs. Durant-Ethel winner, 6:30
March 7 – Noxubee-Stone County girls winner vs. Raymond (36-2), 1:00
Compiled by Marty Stamper