March 13, 2014
At home in the
The H.W. Byers Lady Lions will go for their sixth gold ball in seven years Thursday afternoon.
But a huge obstacle stands in the way.
The opposition is superstar Victoria Vivians and Scott Central.
Jason Thompson, head coach of the Lady Lions, said Vivians is the most talented girls high school basketball player ever in Mississippi.
“She’s the best to ever lace up,” he said.
The senior, who will play collegiately at Mississippi State, is the state’s all-time leading girls basketball scorer.
She poured in a career-high 68 points in the south half championship game, an 80-76 loss to Newton.
In the state semi-finals last Friday, she scored 43, with 36 of those coming in the second half, as the Lady Rebels beat Coahoma County 72-58.
“We know we have our work cut out for us, but my kids are ready to answer the bell,” Coach Thompson said. “We will lay all of our chips on the line and see what happens.”
Byers has won five state titles in the last six years – two in Class 2A (2008 and 2009) and three in Class 1A (2011, 2012 and 2013).
This year the Lady Lions are back in 2A and the match-up Thursday pits the defending Class 1A state champion against the defending Class 2A state champ.
Thompson said this team had worked harder than any he’s ever had and has been rewarded with a shot at another crown. Last year he graduated six seniors – four signing college scholarships.
“During the summer, this group started figuring some stuff out,” he said. “Then we played some great competition this season and kept getting better.
“The kids and myself, we took it as a challenge (to get back to Jackson). We knew we were capable. This group worked extremely hard and made tremendous strides, and because of that, we are in this position.”
The Class 2A state title contest between Byers (24-8) and Scott Central (28-6) tips off at 1 p.m. Thursday at Mississippi Coliseum, better known as the Big House.
“We will go in with a game plan, and I believe my kids will definitely execute it,” Coach Thompson said. “I’m proud of my kids and we’re excited about this opportunity.”
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