Thursday, October 9, 2008
The overall championship of the Marshall Academy fast-pitch softball team carried me to the history book.
It was the school’s first since the basketball Patriots pulled off the high honor back in 1971.
After a conversation Sunday night with Tommy Rodgers and his daughter Traci (see the story in sports), I dug out a copy of the March 4, 1971, edition of The South Reporter.
The front page, top right-hand corner, headline read, “MA Patriots take first place in Grand Slam Academy Tournament.”
Featured in the basketball team photo in the March 4, 1971, newspaper with their trophies for the spectacular season were manager Fred Carlisle, Robert Akins, Ben Yarbrough, Chuck Rounsaville, Mike Harrison, Jimmy Lee Hughes, George Yarbrough, Jewel Johnson, coach Randy Hynum, head coach Noal Akins, Larry Coley, Tommy Rodgers, Johnny Hill, Billy Person, Mike Boone, Stephen Fleming, Bobby Bonds, Bob Dent, Gary Utley and coach David Rather.
And here’s some of the big story from 37 years ago:
The undefeated Marshall Academy Patriots captured the Academy Conference Overall Tournament by defeating Jackson McCleur 63-61 in the Mississippi State University Coliseum on Saturday night, February 27. This marks two consecutive years that the Patriots have been undefeated, having won 38 straight games over this period, including 26 victories this year.
The Patriots had to win two games in this tournament in order to reach the finals. On Thursday, MA defeated Central Holmes Academy 57-51. Mike Boone led in points and rebounds with 28 and 14, respectively. Chuck Rounsaville contributed 11 points and seven rebounds, and Billy Person got 12 rebounds.
In the next game, the Patriots won 93-90 over Columbia. The Patriots had to battle all the way in this ball game, being as far behind as 13 in the second quarter. The Patriots placed five players in double figures with Boone getting 26, Tommy Rodgers 24, Rounsaville 16, Larry Coley 12 and Mike Harrison with 11.
In the finals on Saturday night, the Patriots started off quite slowly, scoring only eight points in the first quarter and 10 in the second. MA was behind 29-18 at halftime. The Patriots then tallied 23 points in the third quarter and only trailed by one point going into the final quarter. The lead changed hands quite often until late in the game when MA built a five-point lead. McCleur nullified this by scoring five points in about 30 seconds to tie the game at 61-61. The Patriots brought the ball down the court with 10 seconds on the clock. Rodgers was covered and returned the ball to Rounsaville with five seconds left. Rounsaville dribbled to the top of the key and put up a shot with two seconds on the clock. It hit the front of the rim and fell through the net as the buzzer sounded to give the Patriots the championship win.
Boone got 16 points and 11 rebounds; Rounsaville had 15 points and seven assists; Rodgers collected 13 points; and Person scored 10 points and had seven rebounds. Jimmy Lee Hughes scored seven crucial points during the fourth quarter rally that brought the victory to MA.
On Sunday, the team was met at Lake Center for a buffet dinner and escort through Holly Springs by the many supporters of Marshall Academy. Mayor Sam Coopwood greeted each player, coach and manager personally.
He informed coach Noal Akins that Monday, March 8, will be “Noal Akins Day” in Holly Springs and that Coach Akins will be the honorary mayor of Holly Springs.
Headmaster R.A. Harbour made a short speech at the dinner, saying how pleased he was with the team, for they had proven themselves not only as number one on the playing court but also in the area of sportsmanship and as Christian gentlemen.
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