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Boys basketball will have full field

By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
June 24, 2003
To drum up support for the State Games of Mississippi High School Basketball event, commissioner Ernie Watson hit the phones.
His efforts paid off with a full field of 24 teams entered in the boys portion of the four-day tournament which starts Thursday at five gym locations in the Meridian and Newton County area.
The girls field, however, came in at 18 teams, a low level in comparison to past State Games.
Watson was happy that a good portion of the teams are from the Lauderdale-Newton-Neshoba area.
Meridian High, which won the boys gold medal last year, will not have the homecourt advantage this time. The Meridian High Physical Education Building's playing floor has been torn up to repair rain damage.
Northwest Junior High School will serve as the substitute host for the Meridian High pool games. Meridian Community College's Ivy Center will serve the other Meridian pool and will host the medal round games on Sunday.
Meridian High's boys pool includes North Forrest, Neshoba Central, Wayne Academy, Warren Central and Southeast Lauderdale. The MCC boys pool will feature West Lauderdale, Northeast Lauderdale, Noxubee County, Quitman, Heidelberg Academy and Columbia.
The Newton-Decatur boys pools will have Newton County, West Oktibbeha, Choctaw Central, Jefferson County, East Union and Durant in pool IV. Pool III will consist of Newton, Kemper County, Bay Springs, Cleveland, Williams Sullivan and Lake.
Four of the 24 teams played in last year's State High School Basketball Tournament in Jackson. The teams include Northeast Lauderdale, Choctaw Central, Kemper County and Jefferson County.
The girls field will be headed by two state runners-up in 5A Wayne County and 3A West Lauderdale. West Lauderdale is the defending gold medal champion.
Ironically, the two state finalists open up pool play in a 2:30 game on Thursday at the Ivy Center. The three other teams in a very strong pool at MCC include Warren Central, Noxubee County and Division 5-4A champ Northeast Lauderdale.
The Meridian High pool will have Meridian, Quitman, Kemper County, Northeast Jones and Southeast Lauderdale. Shirley says he feels his Lady Wildcats could make a return to the gold medal game.
Pool III at Newton and East Central will consist of Newton, Pillow Academy, Nanih Waiya and Lake. Pool IV at Newton County High School and East Central will have Newton County, Jefferson County, Choctaw Central and Bay Springs.
Bay Springs, Choctaw Central, Newton and Lake all played in their respective state tournaments last March.

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