Thursday, March 13, 2014
Having fun at Big House
The road to the Big House is always a good road.
Occasionally, there’s construction on I-55, but it’s still a trip I enjoy making.
Last week, Pam, Erin and I decided to pack up a day early and spend Thursday night in Jackson (actually in nearby Pearl). The H.W. Byers Lady Lions had the first game of this year’s State Basketball Tournament Friday at 9 a.m. We did not want to leave at 5:30 a.m. the day of the big game.
I’d asked head coach Jason Thompson about the challenge of getting his girls going for an early-morning game.
I anticipated his answer.
“It’s better than the alternative,” said Thompson, referring to not making the state tournament at all.
For he and his Lady Lions, it’s become customary – eight straight trips to the Big House.
Our first mission Thursday night after checking in at our hotel was eating. We searched for a local establishment and found The Crawfish Barn. It was adventurous, to say the least, but good. I chose seafood – shrimp and scallops.
We were up early the next morning and at Mississippi Coliseum plenty early.
For sure, the Byers girls were wide awake and ready to go. They grabbed an early lead and caught the Lady Tigers napping en route to a 18-point victory.
As soon as that game was over, we drove to Jackson Prep where two Marshall Academy Lady Patriots, Elizabeth Skelton and Carrie Graham, played for the North in the Class A Basketball All-Star game. It started at 11 a.m. Friday. Both played well and both played a lot of minutes, however, the North lost the game despite a rally try.
After that, it was time to eat again. We chose the nearby Mug Shots. It was crowded but well worth the wait.
Then I decided to let Pam and Erin drop me back off at the Big House so I could watch the Baldwyn Bearcats versus the Heidelberg Oilers.
I know Jason McKay, head coach of the Bearcats, from my days in Monroe County. He once coached at Smithville High School.
The Bearcats beat the Oilers and will defend their 2A title this week.
I watched the Baldwyn game in the semi-finals with good friend Terry Walters, the head girls coach at Hatley. My family went to church with Terry and his family during our days in Aberdeen. Back then, Terry was the head coach at Hamilton.
Each year I go to Jackson for the state tournament, I enjoy renewing old acquaintances. It’s a network that I’ve enjoyed building up since I moved to Mississippi in 1986. That’s 28 years ago.
I made my first trip to the Mississippi Coliseum while working for The Itawamba County Times.
Each year, I get to chat with Gene Phelps, a good friend who works with the Daily Journal in Tupelo. This year we talked about how they don’t make sports writers like they used to. Basically, we were saying that the two of us are two of the best.
This year I also ran into good friends and fellow newspaper leaders Lisa McNeece of the Calhoun County Journal and Waid Prather of The Carthaginian. We shared some laughs and some newspaper conversation, too.
Of course, I saw elected officials and other familiar faces from around Marshall County – all there in support of H.W. Byers.
The Big House, primarily, is about basketball and the players. But it’s fun for the fans, too.
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