Central Academy hosts state tourney
By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Saturday, May 19, 2001
MACON Some area high school athletes have already graduated, and most others are already lining up their plans for the summer.
Today in Macon, however, a handful still have a shot at winning a state championship.
Central Academy plays host to the Mississippi Private School Association's Class A State Tournament today, and four area teams have a shot at the title.
The host Lady Vikings are joined in the eight-team, double-elimination event by Kemper Academy, Sylva-Bay Academy and Heidelberg Academy four District 3-A rivals who finished in the aforementioned order in last week's North State Tournament.
The remainder of the MPSA field includes South State champ Huntington (La.) School, Amite School, Claiborne (La.) Academy and Plain Dealing (La.).
Action gets under way at 9 a.m. at CA's Mike Thomas Field when Kemper battles Claiborne. It's the second straight year the pair have been matched in a first-round state tourney game.
At 10:15, Huntington battles Heidelberg, and at 11:30 a.m., Amite School takes on Sylva-Bay. The opening ceremonies will take place at approximately 12:45 p.m., and Central takes on Plain Dealing in the other first-round game at 1:30 p.m.
The host Lady Vikings are the defending state champs, as Central won five of the last six Class A state crowns under Thomas who retired after last season and had the field named after him earlier this year.
This year's Central team has won 14 of its last 15 games and sports a 43-13 mark under first-year head coach Clay Stringer.
Kemper, which finished third behind Central and Huntington four times in the 1990s, is 16-10 this season under headmaster Pete McCleskey.
Cindy Brownlee's Heidelberg Academy squad is also a contender with wins this season over five of the other teams in the field; while Chad Odom's Sylva-Bay squad finished the season strong and was third in last week's North State tourney.
Of the teams from the South, Huntington has two titles and a host of runnerup finishes in the last decade, while Amite won three Class AA crowns in the last four years before moving down to Class A prior to this season.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.