Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One Chance: Legally blind mother rises through turmoil to witness her 10-year-old son become a Black Belt

GREENVILLE — Nellie Harris always wanted the best for her child. So when the then 47-year-old single mother heard about Taekwondo classes in town she signed her son, Chance Harris, up for the twice-a-week lessons.
“I’m a single mother,” said Harris, “and in the world we live in, I didn’t want him to grow up and have to depend on other people to fight for him.”
Fast forward seven years to last week, and Chance’s transformation from a eager 3-year-old to a 10-year-old black belt is complete.
But the Harris family journey has been a long one, to say the least.
In 2007, a complication during surgery caused her to lose sight in her right eye.
She was eventually diagnosed as legally blind and is forced to wear dark shades to protect her eyes.
“Your whole life changes,” said Harris. “It’s like someone stole a part of me.....I could have lost both of them, but God is so good.”
But without a ride to Taekwondo lessons, Nellie was still forced to walk her son, Chance, three to four miles on Monday’s and Wednesday’s. Nellie estimates the routine of her walking Chance to his class lasted for about five years before the instructor, Rickie Johnson, intervened.
“She was walking (Chance to class) in the rain, sleet and snow,” recalled Johnson, who has been teaching the sport for 15 years. “I realized she was doing that and I told her ‘I will pick him up and take him home. You don’t have to do that anymore.’”
For the last two years, Nellie recalls, Johnson has been picking Chance up religiously twice a week. The Harris family lived not far from Johnson’s workplace at the time, Masterfoods — now known as Uncle Ben’s.
“It was a load off my shoulders. I was just so thankful,” said Harris. “I asked him if I can do anything for you, just let me know.”
Johnson said when he first met both Nellie and Chance, he could sense their determination.
“She said she didn’t want to lose her child to the streets,” recalled Johnson.
Johnson also remembers the first time he met Chance.
“He was only 3 years old and he did a counter-clockwise,” Johnson recalled. “I said I’ll take him.”
Chance’s road to a black belt, however, was a long and bumpy one for both he and his mother. Nellie’s out-of-town eye surgeries and Chance’s Taekwondo tournaments forced them to travel a lot.
“Sometimes we had money,” Nellie recalled, “sometimes we didn’t.”
“We walked, hitch-hicked rides....we just kept pushing.”
Nellie still remembers those days of walking Chance to Johnson’s Taekwondo classes. She would walk him there, walk back home to gather his school clothes for the next day, and then return to pick him up.
“Sometimes it was cold and raining,” she recalled. “Chance helped me a lot of times. And I could kind of feel where I was going because I was used to the route.”
Nellie’s determination must have trickled down to Chance, said Johnson. Chance has been one of his star pupils.
“The average 10-year-old kid can't touch him,” said Johnson.
Chance, an A-student, is one that his peers look up to, said Nellie. Especially since he became a black belt.
The day after he earned his black belt, a group of friends was at the front door to walk with him to school. They wanted to be in the presence of the 10-year-old Taekwondo master.
“I was scared to let him walk to school,” said Nellie,” but I went on and let him walk. I called the school to make sure they all made it safe.”
The now 54-year-old, who said she has special lights at home to accommodate her disability, is thankful for Johnson and expects even more from Chance.
“We'll never forget Mr. Johnson,” said Nellie. “....We're going higher (and) further....(Chance’s) goal is to be the youngest Sensei.”

Monday, December 27, 2010

All-DDT Football Team

*The Delta Democrat Times' coverage area includes only Washington County

Debrille Grant (Simmons)
Donald Jackson (GWHS)
Damian Samuels (Simmons)
Read Kelly (Washington)
Rashuun Alexander (Simmons)
Mark Wooley (Deer Creek)
Nicholas Mosby (Leland)
Secundus Jackson (Leland)
Larry Griffin (GWHS)
Colton Witherspoon (Riverside)
Kentzevious Flowers (Simmmons)
Greg Foster (GWHS)
Cordell Edmonds (OBHS)
Jamarkus Harris (Leland)
Terrell Williams (GWHS)
Jerry Lyons (OBHS)
David Motton (St. Joe)
Broderick Fordham (Leland)
Kenya Dennis (Leland)
Curtis Carter (GWHS)
Nathan Noble (Washington)
Evan Russell (St. Joe)
Justin Leavy (Greenville Christian)
Coach of the Year
Jimmy Jennings (Greenville Christian)

Eric Brozovich (Washington)
Jamaros Barnes (Leland)
Ryan Gober (Washington)
Roderick Richardson (Simmons)
Justin Short (Riverside)
Miekell Gray (Simmons)
Matt Menchaca (St. Joe)
Shaifer Bell (Washington)
Kentrell Canada (GWHS)
Ellis Sims (Simmons)
Cornelius Thomas (Riverside)
Mardarius Booker (OBHS)
Philantes Jarrett (Simmons)
Hunter McGaugh (St. Joe)
Qvanthony Hamilton (Leland)
Willie Mosby (GWHS)
Jamal Ezekeil (O’Bannon)
Elbert Foules (GWHS)
Bronson Bell (Leland)
Jalyn Brown (St. Joe)
Ladarius Goodman (Riverside)
Freddy Cosey (Simmons)

Honorable Mention
Seve Signa (Deer Creek)
Kendarius Bryant (OBHS)
Archie Dennard (Simmons)
J’Daylan Jackson (St. Joe)
Lea Turner (Washington)
Andrew Steinle (Washington)
Mike Hardy (Greenville Christian)
Devontae Overton (Leland)
Marquel Richardson (Riverside)

DDT Player of the Year: Terrell Williams

GREENVILLE — There’s no doubt about it. Terrell Williams is a one-sport athlete. Don’t be confused; however, because the Greenville-Weston High linebacker could play other sports, but he was built for football – and football alone.
He’s too physical for anything else.
“That’s why I don’t play basketball,” Williams said, “because I’ll probably foul out.”
Thankfully, though, Williams knows his calling. A calling that has transformed the junior athlete from a shy kid on a Coleman Middle School football team in ’06 to this year’s Delta Democrat Times’ Football Player of the Year.
“Of all the players we brought in this summer,” said first-year coach Todd Lott, “(Williams) bought into what we were trying to do.”
Williams racked up 93 tackles on defense and nearly 250 yards and two touchdowns this year while playing fullback.
Williams, along with junior running back Donald Jackson (1,119 rushing yards, 8 TDs), carried the load for a Hornets team that took strides under new leadership – former Washington School coach Lott.
“I owe it all to my coaching staff,” said Williams. “They worked us hard all summer. They had us weight room and we ran for days.”
Apparently it paid off. Since his middle schools days, the 5-foot-10 Williams has always played linebacker. This year he picked up the fullback duties, as well.
On offense, Williams served as the team’s short-yardage back, and started the season with a bang – rushing for 70 yards and a touchdown in his fullback debut.
On defense, Williams really found his groove later in the year, racking up 40 tackles in the last three games against some of the state’s toughest competition.
“Middle linebacker is not an easy position in our scheme,” said Lott. “You have to be aware of what everyone is doing around you – and he was very valuable in helping other players line up right (and) keep their assignments.”
Williams reverted back to the team’s workouts this summer as the credit for his improvement. Those two-a-days from 8 to 11 in the morning 2 till 4 in the afternoon really paid off, he said.
And don’t forget about the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Gatorade, Williams chuckled.
The bruising linebacker still has another year so his college options are still up in the air. So far he said he’s received letters from Ole Miss and Arkansas.
He doesn’t know what his plans are after 2012, but he does have an idea of what position he would like to suit up at in college.
“I’m not tall enough to be a linebacker (at the next level),” said the 5-foot-10 Williams, “but I’ll play fullback.”
This year, the Hornets were just shy of their first playoff berth since 2001. GWHS finished the season 4-7 after winning three of their first five.
Despite playing in a region boasting two of the state’s top 6A teams – Northwest Rankin and Madison Central – Williams has high hopes for his Hornet team in 2011.
“We,” he said, “wanna be state champs.”

Friday, December 17, 2010

Heart and Soul: "Scooter" Williams the backbone of DSU's 'D'

CLEVELAND — The summer after Garrett Williams’ sixth grade year in the Leland School District, he knew he needed a change of scenery. So Williams packed up and moved in with his father outside of Rolling Fork — about 30 miles away.
“The guys that I was hanging around, I knew I wasn’t going to make it too far,” said Williams, a senior defensive back at Delta State who will lead the Statesmen in the Division-II national championship game Saturday against Minnesota-Duluth.
Williams enrolled in the South Delta School District his seventh grade year where he picked up football — and “it just went from there,” Williams recalled.
The “there” Williams speaks of is his transition from a troubled kid on the streets of a poverty-stricken city to an All-American football player. Thursday, it was announced that Williams’ team-leading 115 tackles and eight interceptions earned him Associated Press Little All-America Third-Team honors.
Williams’ eye-popping numbers, however, are shocking compared to his first three years at DSU. Williams played only sparingly through his first three seasons, registering just 55 tackles — including 30 last year playing outside linebacker.
“When guys have those type of years.....I don’t know if you can say I expected it,” said DSU coach Ron Roberts. “You hope for those guys, you think they have a chance to have a great year.....(But) I didn’t expect it.
“I knew he had the potential to be great. I knew he would be a great player for us.”
Williams’ coach at South Delta High, Derrick Hooker, remembers a polite kid who was quick to answer “no sir and yes sir.” He “never shied away from anything,” and quickly adjusted to the various position changes he went through in high school, Hooker recalled.
“Scooter” — Williams’ nickname since he can remember — played tailback as a freshman; switched to quarterback as a sophomore; and made the transition back to tailback and safety his junior and senior year. Williams rushed for, Hooker estimates, for 1,500 yards and “20-plus” TDs his senior year and had over 100 tackles on defense.
“I thought he could have played (Division-I) football,” said Hooker. “I knew he could play at any position — he’s that kind of kid.”
Williams was recruited as an athlete and has played on both sides of the field during his tenure in Cleveland. He started out as a receiver before moving to cornerback and then to the secondary — where Williams plays the Nitro position, a mix between a safety and linebacker.
Williams said he came into the season just wanting to compete. But the 5-foot-10, 190 pound defensive back, who was repeatedly told while growing up that he was too small, has put up numbers that has even him scratching his head.
“I wasn’t expecting this kind of year,” said Williams. “It’s been an awesome year. I just wanted to come out and compete.”
Saturday’s national championship game in Florence, Ala. is expected to have a crowd full of DSU fans, especially those rooting for “Scooter.” Williams said he expects about 25 family members to show up, and Hooker added that he may be in the stadium cheering his former athlete on as well.
The “Let’s go, Scooter” calls from the crowd will likely be louder than they’ve ever been in Williams’ final game. But that begs the question: Where did the name Scooter come from?
“I’m not sure,” said Williams. “People have just always called me Scooter. It came from my dad’s side of the family.”
No one calls him Garrett, said Williams — not the coaching staff, not his teammates, not even teachers.
“I don’t think I’ve ever called you Garrett,” DSU defensive lineman Matt Melton joked at Monday’s media conference.
“I guess,” Williams added, “I’m just blessed with the name.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Today's Tiny Tidbits: Gentry's Jerry Walker axed after one season

Here are a few odds and ends from around the Delta.

First off, Gentry High football coach Jerry Walker is looking for a new coaching gig. Walker, who was in his first year at Gentry after a successful career at Ray Brooks, was recently released of his coaching duties. Sources say Walker will stay on to teach this year, but hopes to land another coaching job before next season.

Meanwhile, the Delta State football team left today on their trip to Florence, Ala. for Saturday’s national championship game against Minnesota-Duluth. And did you know that reserve linebacker Tyler Seau is the son of legendary NFL linebacker Junior Seau. The younger Seau, however, doesn’t like to speak about it and is ready to make his own path. The junior, who transferred from Palomar College in California, has 24 tackles (three for loss) and an interception so far this season.

Back to high school news: Even without their top three scorers from last season, the Greenville-Weston Hornets basketball team has a 6-3 record going into Friday’s showdown with Vicksburg. Twins Jacorian (10.1 ppg) and Javorian Lawrence (14.8) have been the driving force for GWHS with Armon Evans (12.9 ppg) helping out. The Hornets will also play in a tournament at Columbus on Saturday.

THIS JUST IN: Delta State defensive back Garrett Williams was named to the AP Little All-America Third-Team. The Leland native has had an impressive season in his first year in a starting role. Williams has racked up 115 tackles and eight INT's, including two picks in the postseason — tying a D-II record.

Cash-strapped Greenville School District loses $6k on Valley games

GREENVILLE – An article on the front page of today’s Delta Democrat Times – written by our education beat reporter Everett Chinn – brought to light what most had feared: the three Mississippi Valley State games hosted at Greenville-Weston High School this year were a financial failure for the school district.

In all, the three games – including the Oct. 2 homecoming game against Prairie View – put the district in the hole, nearly $6,000.

Back in September, Greenville Superintendent Dr. Harvey Franklin waived the rental fee of up to $5,000 – and said the district would recoup their investment by selling concessions.

“This is what was best in the long run, and by selling the concessions, it offered us the better value,” Franklin said back in September. “I feel it’s a win-win situation for the organization, city and the county.”

However, the sparse crowd at the Valley games brought their own food, taking a bite out of the district’s plans. The money the school district had planned to gain was going to be used to fund Greenville-Weston’s six non-revenue producing sports, which were suspended this summer. The six sports have since been re-instated.

The Washington County Convention Center was also used by MVSU at no cost. Plus, the school district footed the bill for a shuttle service which bused fans from the convention center to the stadium.

MVSU retained the revenue from each game’s ticket sales.

Attendance numbers

Of the three games at Greenville-Weston, the Oct. 23 game against Grambling saw the highest announced attendance at 3,197. The Oct. 2 game against Prairie View produced an announced crowd of 2,210 and season finale vs. Alabama A&M on Nov.13 had 2,398. (For the record, announced attendance is usually off from the number actually in attendance.)

But why so few people?

Here’s several reasons why attendance may have been so low:

  • Leflore County MVSU alumni boycotted the games because they felt it made more sense for the games to be held in Greenwood, which is less than 10 miles away, instead of 45 miles away in Greenville.
  • There was some unwanted company at the Alabama A&M game – rain. I personally counted no more than 30 people on the visitor’s side – and a very sparse home crowd.
  • Have you heard? Valley didn’t win a game this year.

Although the cash-strapped school district lost nearly $6,000, Franklin stands behind his decision.

“It was a gamble, but it was well worth it,” he said. “We showed we were more than capable of hosting and preparing for a large crowd.”

He did say, however, he would do it differently if there is a next time. “If we ever go through this in the future, we’ll use different strategies,” said Franklin. “One of the things we’ll look at is utilizing the stadium for profit by us renting the football field. My recommendation would be just rent the facility.”

Compare the numbers

Let’s take a peek at the two other state SWAC schools, in regards to attendance. JSU, who hosted Southern Oct. 16 in front of an announced 42,053, averaged 25,583 fans per home game this season.

Alcorn State, meanwhile, averaged a home crowd of 7,132 – with he largest crowd – 18,075 people – showing up to the Southern game. (Reminder: The announced attendance is usually off the mark. In reality, the attendance is usually lower.)

Look for more of the details on the blog and in Thursday's Delta Democrat Times. 

The Underdog: DSU shines under the microsope

CLEVELAND — Each week during the Division II playoffs, Delta State hasn’t been the most popular pick amongst football fans.
But each week they’ve proved critics wrong.
In the second round, they revenged a regular season loss to Gulf South Conference rival North Alabama before dismantling previously-undefeated Albany State in the quarterfinals and one-loss Shepherd last week in the semifinals.
Even after winning three playoff games by a margin of 104-48, DSU is not the favorite in Saturday’s national championship game against undefeated Minnesota-Duluth.
And that’s fine, said DSU coach Ron Roberts.
“I know in most eyes we’re the underdog — and I don’t think we would want it any other way. That’s fine with us,” he said. “We’re obviously going to have earn our respect.”
With a host of new players on both sides of the ball, expectations weren’t high for a Statesmen team that finished 5-5 in 2009. But DSU players are hoping history repeats itself Saturday, being that the last DSU team to win a national title — in 2000 — weren’t the most popular bunch around either.
“Pretty much like us, they weren’t even picked to win the Gulf South (Conference),” said DSU defensive lineman Matt Melton....”If I’m not mistaken, they were picked fifth...”
Now the Statesmen only need to pull off one more upset to earn their second-ever national title. But they’ll have to bring their A-game against a Minnesota-Duluth team who won the title in 2008, said Roberts. The Bulldogs (13-0) scored over 40 points in all but one game during the regular season.
“No question, they’re the best football (we’ll) play this year,” he said.
“(But) we’re not going to blink. (They’re) not going to scare us,” Roberts added.
Melton said his focus isn’t on the No.1 ranked Bulldogs. His mindset is on the Statesmen.
“At the end of the day, it’s about how hard we wanna work or how hard we play. It’s not necessarily too much about what they do or what they’ve done — it’s all on us,” said the Cleveland native.
Roberts said he’s heard the chatter that “we don’t have a chance....(and) they’re going to blow us out.” And as for Minnesota-Duluth’s No. 1 ranking in the AFCA Poll — “The only poll that matters is the one at the end of the game,” he added.
Roberts said he has received several calls from players on the 2000 national championship team, and a lot of them will be at the game Saturday.
Melton, meanwhile, wants to end his collegiate career the same way the seniors of 2000 did — as national champions.
“What would be better than us holding a trophy next to (their championship picture)...,” said Melton. “It would be nice to have our name up there too.”

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What a feeling: DSU advances to D-II national championship game

CLEVELAND — There were road blocks scattered everywhere Saturday in the way of Delta State’s second-ever Division II national championship berth.
The Statesmen were up against a 12-1 Shepherd team who scored 90 points in their last two games; there was a 39-minute lightening delay which turned McCool Stadium into a mudbath; and DSU quarterback Micah Davis threw three picks.
But through it all, the Statesmen (11-3) clawed their way to a 29-17 victory and advanced to this Saturday’s Division II national championship game against Minnesota-Duluth in Florence. Ala. The game is scheduled for 10 a.m. and will be broadcasted live on ESPN2.
Minnesota-Duluth defeated Northwest Missouri State 17-13 Saturday night to advance to the title game.
“I can’t even explain (this feeling),” said DSU running back Trevar Deed, who finished with 105 yards on 20 carries. “A lot of guys are amped up...(But) we still have one more to go. We want to feel the ultimate excitement.”
DSU coach Ron Roberts echoed Deed’s statement and added that there still is work to be done.
“I don’t wanna be satisfied,” said Roberts. “We still have unfinished business.”
DSU felt the same way even before the game concluded. With DSU sporting a 17-14 lead midway through the third quarter, Davis threw his third interception of the game — the last play before the lightening delay.
The break gave the Statesmen a chance to alter their gameplan, Roberts said.
“It was time to hand the ball to Trevar (Deed) and let him do his work,” he said.
Deed kept DSU in the game, but Leland native Garrett Williams dotted the “i” on the national championship berth when he picked off two Kevin Clancy passes — one with less than two minutes remaining.
“He’s done it all year....He’s our guy on defense,” said Roberts. “I think somebody needs to recalculate the All-American honors and make sure (he’s on the list).”
Shepherd scored first capping off a 9-minute first quarter drive with a four-yard TD scamper by Nate Hoyte. But it would be the first and the last time the Rams would have the lead.
Bill Franks scored on a 12-yard reverse run, L.J. Castille caught two touchdown passes (6 and 12 yards) — and Davis connected with his former JUCO teammate Carlton Ollie on a 64-yard toss.
But the most impressive aspect of DSU’s team was their defensive unit. They limited a run-happy Shepherd team to only 69 yards on the ground, a season low.
“We just can’t be stopped as long as we keep playing our game,” said Deed.
And “their game” has catapulted a Statesmen team that was once on the outside looking in — into a team searching for a second national championship, their fist since 2000.
“We don’t want to go home. That’s what we keep saying in the locker room,” Deed added.
Since the season kicked off, Roberts has marketed his team as one of — if not the best in the nation. Now he has some clout to back that statement up.
“That’s the beauty about playing a playoff system, (that) you get a chance to prove it,” said Roberts. “If you are, you’re going to get a chance to prove it.”
NOTES: DSU outgained Shepherd 347 to 281...Micah Davis went 14-of-22 for 193 yards, three TDs and three INTs....L.J. Castille led DSU with five catches for 64 yards and two TD’s.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dennis producing for DSU after long layoff

As we all know, Delta State and Shepherd face off Saturday at 1 p.m. in Cleveland for the chance to play in the Division 2 championship game Dec. 18 in Florence, Ala.
But what you probably didn't know was that DSU's top three receivers, who are all transfers — L.J. Castille, Maurice Moore and Chance Dennis — were all born in Texas.
Here are some of the highlights from today's Delta Democrat Times' article:
  • Castille, a senior transfer from Houston, was born in La Marque; Moore, a transfer from the University of Wisconsin, grew up in Fort Worth; and Houston-born Chance transferred from Stephen F. Austin.
  • The trio has combined for 149 catches, 2,030 yards and 16 TDs this season, with Castille leading the pack with 55 receptions for 756 yards and 10 TDs.
  • Of the three, Dennis' trek to Cleveland may be the most interesting. Dennis hasn't played football since 2004, his sophomore season at Stephen F. Austin, under current DSU offensive coordinator Greg Stevens. An injury at SFA stalled his football career, but Dennis decided to give football another shot after Stevens came to DSU this season. "I didn't too much know anything about Delta State before I came here," said the 25-year-old Dennis. "I was just coming here to compete to see if I could still make big plays, catch the ball, and run around with these young guys." Dennis has 10 catches for 133 yards and two TDs through two playoff games.
  • DSU coach Ron Roberts said, before the season, he could point out 16 teams who had a shot at winning a title. "And (DSU) was one of them," he said. For weeks, even after a loss, Roberts has stood behind his offense, calling them one of the best in the nation. DSU's semifinal berth "gives validity to things we're saying," said Roberts.
Saturday's game kicks off at 1 p.m. and will broadcasted live on CBS college sports. Follow me at Twitter.com/kennymr for up-to-second news.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Today's tiny tidbits: MVSU women to play Saturday at MDCC

Mississippi Valley State's football team was forced to play 50 miles away at Greenville-Weston High School this season, and now the MVSU women's basketball team will have to play their first home game at Mississippi Delta Community College due to repairs currently taking place at the Harrison HPER Complex.
Saturday's 3 p.m. game against Talladega College will tip off at MDCC's newly-renovated coliseum (see pictures below in an earlier blog post) because repairs are still being made to the coliseum floor due to a leak in the roof.
It is not yet known when the gym when be complete or if it will be available for the Delta Devils' home-opener Jan. 8 against Alabama A&M.
MVSU currently has its practices at Threadgill Elementary School in Greenwood.

MVSU's Smith and Joyner honored by SWAC
Mississippi Valley State senior Orlando Smith was named SWAC men’s basketball Player of the Week, while teammate Terrence Joyner earned SWAC Newcomer of the Week honors.
Smith (F, 6-5, 210, Sr., Columbus, Miss.) averaged 11.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in three contests for the Delta Devils. He had 12 points, six rebounds and two assists against Liberty and posted a double-double of 19 points and 14 rebounds in a win over Georgia Southern.
Joyner (G, 6-2, 175, Jr., Mendenhall, Miss.) averaged 12.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game for MVSU last week. He notched 14 points and a game-high five steals against Liberty and contributed 19 points on 7-8 shooting (88%) from the charity stripe versus Georgia Southern.

A look around DSU: Scouting Shepherd
Delta State is just one game away from playing in their second-ever Division 2 national championship game. They'll host Shepherd (12-1) Saturday at 1 p.m. in a semifinal bout. Shepherd's lone loss came on Nov. 13 against Glenville State, 28-24.
A quick glance at their stats show that — like DSU's one-two punch of Trevar Deed and Brandon Lucas — the Rams have their own Thunder and Lightening. Tommy Addison (1,630 rushing yards, 19 TDs) and Nate Hoyte (761 rushing yards, 16 TD's) have carried Shepherd a long way.
Shepherd has put at least 40 points in eight out of 13 games. And another player to look out for will be Shepherd defensive back Keon Robinson, who has nine INT's and two TD's.
Shepherd is the first-ever school from the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) to reach the semifinals.

Meanwhile, the Delta State Lady Statesmen still hold the No.1 spot in USA Today/ESPN Division II Top 25 poll. DSU (7-0) will host West Florida Sunday at 2 p.m.

High school notes
Grenada High football coach Lamar Pitcock recently resigned after three years at the helm. Last year the chargers went 4-8 before falling to eventual 6A champion South Panola in the first round of the playoffs. Grenada Star Sports Editor Chuck Hathcock sites Pitcock's unwillingness to shake up his staff as the cause of his resignation. Here's the link: http://bit.ly/dVIy4y

The O'Bannon High girls basketball team stayed undefeated Tuesday night after blowing out South Delta, 63-30. Myiesha Stewart continued her dominance, scoring 20 points. The Lady Waves are now 9-0 on the season.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Welcome Home: Greenville native Evans enjoying MDCC after one year at Co-Lin

PHOTO CUTLINE: Greenville native Anthony Evans (center) is joined on the Mississippi Delta Community College team by former area players Cadarrius Nelson (left) who played at O’Bannon High and Danny Bolden (far right) who played at Greenville-Weston High.

MOORHEAD — Like most 18-year-olds, Anthony Evans wanted to venture off after graduating from high school. The former Greenville-Weston basketball standout was recruited by nearby Mississippi Delta Community College, but the idea of signing with Copiah-Lincoln Community College, a "basketball school" three hours away from the confines of home, were too tempting.
But after a year at the school in Wesson, Evans is back in the Delta, playing an integral role for the MDCC Trojans (4-2).
And he's as happy as ever.
"I feel more comfortable here. And I like the system here," said Evans, who scored 10 points in last night's overtime loss to Coahoma Community College.
"I struggled at (Co-Lin), sometimes homesick," said Evans. "I tried to maintain, but I just didn't feel too comfortable there."
Evans doesn't seem to be having that problem now that he's back in the Delta. He's been the spark off the bench for the Trojans, scoring in double-digits in all but one game. He put up 11 points in his Trojan debut against Hinds and had a season-high 20 in a loss to Pearl River. Evans is one of six Trojans averaging double figures this season, putting up 10.6 points per game.
MDCC coach Derrick Fears said just because Evans, who plays both point guard and shooting guard, isn't a starter doesn't mean he's not a top talent.
"He kind of catches people off guard a lot because they don't realize that he can play," said Fears. "By the time they can realize that he can play, he's warmed up and hit two or three shots. He's did that before and took us into another gear."
Fears said Co-Lin, who the Trojans defeated earlier in the season, has been known to have one of the best basketball teams in the state. "That image kind of wins kids over," he said. "We haven't been a basketball school. But since I've been here, we've kind of turned that around."
And Evans isn't alone at the Moorhead campus; he's surrounded by two former teammates, Danny Bolden and DeMario Calvin, and O'Bannon High product Cadarrius Nelson. Another former teammate of Evans at GWHS, Glenn Ford, also transferred from Co-Lin to MDCC, but isn't playing basketball this season.
Being surrounded by the people he grew up around — and the fact that his parents only have to make a 30-minute trip to watch his games, makes life a lot easier, said Evans.
"(My parents) enjoy it. They get to watch me play, because it's not too far from home," said Evans.
Not only does coach Fears have a new special player, but the school's newly-renovated gym opened up for the first time Monday night to a packed house, during a game against Coahoma. The Trojans lost in overtime, while the Lady Trojans (1-5) defeated Coahoma in OT in their first win of the season.
Before the renovation, the gym was gold and blue — but the school's colors are red and black. Now the newly renovated black and red coliseum gives the games a new atmosphere.
"It makes you feel like you're in a college setting," said Fears. "And it's going to help me recruit too."

Monday, December 6, 2010

DSU to host Saturday's semifinals game

CLEVELAND — Saturday was a day full of good news for the Delta State football team.
The No. 18 Statesmen (10-3) defeated previously-unbeaten Albany State last Saturday 28-7 to advance to the Division 2 semifinals. Then, late Saturday night, DSU got more thrilling news: they would be at home this Saturday in a semifinals matchup against Shepherd (12-1).
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at McCool Stadium and the game will televised by CBS College Sports.
Saturday will mark DSU's third semifinal appearance. The Statesmen's last appearance this far into the playoffs came in 2006 when they lost 49-30 to Grand Valley State. Their other appearance was in 2000 when DSU won the Division 2 national title.
In the other semifinal showdown, 2008 champion Minnesota-Duluth (13-0) will host defending champion Northwest Missouri State (12-1). The winners of the two semifinal games will meet Saturday, Dec. 18, at Braly Municipal Stadium in Florence, Ala. in the title game. ESPN2 will televise the contest starting at 10 a.m.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

MDCC to unveil renovated coliseum Dec. 6

MOORHEAD — Mississippi Delta Community College basketball teams are no longer homeless.
MDCC was forced to play their first six games on the road and cancelled their Nov. 29 game against Co-Lin due to renovations to J.T. Hall Coliseum.
But on Monday, Dec. 6, the teams will suit up on their home floor for the first time this season when they host Coahoma at 6 p.m.
The $1.7 million renovation features a completely reworked basketball court and stands. The old aluminum bleacher-type stands and open-area atmosphere have been replaced by permanent stands featuring Trojan-red, chairback seating. The stands and the court are now completely enclosed with individual access to the court and to the stands.
“It has been a long time in the planning and construction, but it has been well worth the wait,” said MDCC Athletic Director Dmoino Bellipanni. “We now have a true basketball arena that the Delta can be proud of. I think this is truly a star in the Delta and a much-needed facelift on a 30-plus year-old building.”
A glass paneled railing now separates spectators from the activity on the court. And a new red, white, and gray paint scheme runs throughout the building and all coaches’ offices now feature glass-paneled front walls.
The entrance/foyer of the coliseum has been reworked with new rubber flooring featuring the Trojan logo. The concession stand has been relocated to the right outer wall as fans enter the building and a new ticket booth is now located on the left as fans enter the doors on their left.
“We are excited to be able to offer such a wonderful renovated space to the faculty, staff, students, and alumni of MDCC,” said MDCC President Dr. Larry Bailey. “This renovation adds a collegiate atmosphere to the facility that was built in the early 1970’s.”
The coliseum will also be used for college events such as ceremonies and career fairs, said Bailey.

4 MDCC players in all-star game

MOORHEAD — Four Mississippi Delta Community College football players will appear in the 37th Annual Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) All-Star Football Classic set for 1 p.m. Saturday in Booneville at Northeast Community College.
The four sophomores include offensive lineman Will Kent of Greenwood, receiver Labrodrick Barnett of Rosedale, offensive lineman Tommy Buford of Cleveland, and defensive lineman Tevin Wells of Rolling Fork.
Thirty-three players comprise each roster with each of 13 community colleges contributing three players. The remainder of the roster is selected by the All-Star coaches with no more than eight players from one team. There are only 13 colleges involved in the game because State Champs Gulf Coast is obligated to play in the Mississippi Bowl Dec. 5 in Biloxi.
During last year’s Classic, the South evened the series 17-17-2 with a 28-0 win over the North and picked up its second win after knocking off the North 16-14 in 2008. The North won 17-14 in 2007.
The All-Star Classic is showcase of Mississippi’s community college athletes and has been a springboard for numerous players over the years to four-year colleges.