March 6, 2008
“The Big House” turned green shortly after the noon hour Saturday.
Odds are it will be greener Thursday night.
Byers fans, sporting their school colors, paraded down I-55 South for the Lady Lions’ semi-final game in the Class 2A State Tournament - which turned out to be a come-from-behind win over Kemper County. The larger parade will roll this week, when Byers meets Philadelphia for the gold ball.
I’ve heard several times in the past few weeks about “the Byers family,” referring to an outstanding family atmosphere at the school. That includes players, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, school administrators, teachers and more.
Successful sports teams help bring that family together.
And as becomes custom when any Marshall County team marches to the Mississippi Coliseum in search of the ultimate post-season prize, “the family” gets even bigger.
Saturday, there were also supporters from other parts of the county - like Byhalia and Holly Springs. And some of those were even wearing the green Byers T-shirts.
“We’re trying to win this (the state championship) for the whole county, not just H.W. Byers,” said Jason Thompson, head coach of the Lady Lions. “It’s good for our community - when everybody comes together. The more we all support one another, the better our community will turn out to be.”
That’s a lesson we all need - and not just in athletics.
Sports editor Claude Vinson, photographer Lawrence White and myself were part of the caravan to Jackson Saturday.
I was driving, and it was far from a dull ride with the two of them tagging along.
And we were decked in green, too - our green South Reporter jackets.
We arrived at the High Street Exit about two hours before game-time and wheeled into Shoney’s, Claude’s choice for lunch. It turned out to be a good choice – a late breakfast from the breakfast bar.
We met some of the Byers family seated across from us.
And just before we left, in walked State Senator Bill Stone from Ashland. He had stayed in town, even though the Legislature dismissed Friday, so he could do the game play-by-play for the Holly Springs radio station.
We were a bit disappointed when we got inside “The Big House” early and saw Coach Thompson decked out in another sharp suit but no green.
“Hey, you need green shoes,” I said when he walked over to talk to us about an hour before tipoff.
We all shared some laughs.
I understand Coach Thompson was mentioned by The Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Jackson as one of the best-dressed coaches in the tournament.
I can’t wait to see his state championship attire. I urged him to wear the striped one, the one he was decked out in for the north state title win over Belmont (featured on last week’s front page).
That’s all in good fun with a good friend.
Most of all, I can’t wait to see his talented Lady Lions give it their best shot Thursday night.
“It’s an honor and blessing to be in the state championship game,” Coach Thompson said. “There are just two teams left.”
I like these Lady Lions. That’s because I believe they exemplify the word “team.”
They’re on a mission. And all of Marshall County is pulling for them to take the state’s biggest basketball prize. They can do it. They’re good - really good.
But, know this, win or lose, these Lady Lions have made us all proud.
Be a part of the parade Thursday. Wear green. Join the family.
Go Lady Lions!
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