Race for Participation Award kicks off Jan. 1
From Staff Reports/Dec. 30, 2001
The competition for the Meridian Star's Participation Award kicks off on Jan. 1 with 45 high school and junior colleges in the running.
The school that does the best job of reporting scores and events and turning in schedules, rosters, photos and brackets to The Meridian Star will be honored in January of 2003 as the 2002 winner.
The heads of schools and athletic directors for the schools have been mailed details of the competition. The results will be posted in The Meridian Star on a monthly basis.
How the times have changed
Taking a quick glimpse of the final scores of the championship basketball games in the Mississippi High School Activities Association can result in seeing some unfamiliar school names.
A lot of that is because consolidation has closed some of those high schools and they now only exist in the memories of those who attended them.
Several of the schools you will recognize as being from Lauderdale County and the surrounding area. Here are few to ponder and to shake your memory: Progress, Homewood, Spring Hill, Carson, Mossville, Neely, Macedonia, Big Creek, Marietta, Johnston Station, SoSo, Martin, Anguilla, Lambert, Improve, Holly Bluff, Rolling Fork, Columbus Caldwell, Pine Grove, Monticello, East Kemper, Waynesboro Central, Bentonia, North Natchez, Ponta, Vimville, Barnes, Center Hill, Beat Four, Camp Ground, Chalybeate, Beulah Hubbard, Thaxton, State Line, Tipah-Union, Collinsville, Brooklyn, Belden, Agricola, Shady Grove, Algoma, Washington, Pope, Glen Allen, Hurricane, Ashland, Topeka-Tilton, Shelby, Nugent Center, Hamilton, Hickory, Decatur and Benton,.
I am sure there are some that slipped past me, but those should be enough to provide a short stroll down memory lane.
Heidelberg South, Decatur were powers
Before the 1970-71 season there were two state basketball championship tournaments held every year.
One was for the predominately white schools and the other The Magnolia Championship was for the black schools.
Several area schools made appearances in the boys and girls Magnolia Championship games between 1950 and 1970, but the most dominate appear to be the girls teams from Heidelberg Southside and Decatur Boler.
From 1967-to-1970 the tournament was broken up into classes, with B and BB being the smallest and A and AA being the largest. After the classification winners were determined, an Overall Championship was then played.
In 1967 and 1968 Heidelberg Southside won both the Class A and Overall titles. Southside beat Hollandale Simmons 32-26 in the 1967 Class A final and Lanier 57-32 for the Overall crown.
In 1968 Heidelberg Southside downed Belzoni McNair 51-38 for the Class A crown then beat Greenville Coleman 49-35 in the Overall title game.
The Southside boys were also strong in 1968, claiming the Class crown with an 83-75 win over Tupelo Carver, but falling in the Overall finals to a powerful Vicksburg Temple team by the score of 101-66.
The Decatur Boler girls won the Class B crown in 1967 (39-38 over Coffeville Central), 1968 (43-36 over Lee Prentiss), and in 1969 (45-36 over West Amory).
The The Heidelberg Southside boys also won the state championship in 1962, beating Natchez Thompson 59-56.
Louisville lost in the 1965 title game to Lanier 122-107, and then in the Class A finals to Greenville Coleman 79-75 in 1966.
The Newton Pilate girls played for the Class BB state title twice, losing to West Amory 44-22 in 1967 and 60-32 to Louise Montgomery in 1970.
Macon Liddell fell in the 1969 Class AA championship game to Yazoo City Taylor by the score of 37-30.
State championships have come long way
In the early days of the MHSAA State Football Championships, the title games were played on neutral fields.
Newton High School was the site of the first ever Class B title game, which saw a Kirby Jackson-led Sturgis team beat St. Aloysius 26-13.
By the way, then St. Al head coach Joe Edwards now works for the school system in Quitman. His son, Auston, was a starting lineman on QHS' playoff football team this season.
Other sites for the title games that first year were Newell Field in Jackson for Class AA, Warren Central in Vicksburg for Class A and Louisville High School for Class B.
Just to jog your memory, here are the other final scores from those first-ever sanctioned title games: South Natchez 21, Starkville 6 in AA, Rosedale 48, Forest 33 in Class A and Hamilton 35, Taylorsville 6 in Class BB.
The games stayed at Neutral sites until Mississippi College began hosting the games in 1986. That lasted until 1992 when the games were moved to Memorial Stadium in Jackson.
Where oh where have they gone?
Three of the four teams that Lamar School beat during its first ever football season in 1971 are no longer in existence.
The Raiders, under the direction of head coach Phil Busbee went 4-6 that season.
Lamar posted wins over Clarke Academy (15-0), Whynot Academy (20-0), Sylva-Bay Academy (40-8) and Jeff Davis Academy (18-7). Only Sylva-Bay is still open.
The losses were against Starkville, Heidelberg, Kemper, Heritage, Winston and Patrician all of which are still operational.
Four of Lamar's wins under head coach Jim Wall in 1972 were also against schools which are now closed.
The Raiders beat Magnolia (8-0), Whynot (25-0), Clarke (20-12), Kemper (27-8) and Jeff Davis (58-12). Only Kemper is still open. The Raiders were 5-4 that season.
Lamar's lone win in 1973 was 33-0 over Whynot, while the Raiders beat Magnolia, Whynot, Kemper, Hanging Moss and Jeff Davis in 1974. All are closed except Kemper.
The Raiders' five wins in 1975 were over Magnolia, Whynot, Beeson, Hanging Moss and Jeff Davis all of which are now closed.