Marshall County, once again, is doing well when it comes to post-season basketball.
Entering this week’s competition, boys teams from Holly Springs, Byhalia and Potts Camp are all just one win away from making it to “The Big House” in Jackson for the final four.
Also, the Marshall Academy boys finished as state runnersup Saturday at their state tourney and advanced to the overall tournament.
Year-in and year-out, athletes from our schools shine brightly when it comes to playoff success. It’s a credit to the young people and their hard work and dedication, and it’s a credit to their coaches.
I started making trips to Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson in the late 1980s covering teams from Itawamba County. I’ve been back pretty much every year since.
Nothing compares to what I inherited when I moved to Marshall County 18 years ago. Basketball here has a rich, rich tradition.
The intra-county clashes are special, like Byhalia vs. Holly Springs, just to name one of the “biggies” that always fills the gym.
The competition on the court is fierce. Winning is the goal, as well it should be. But bottom line, the coaches support one another and the players know each other well and they’re friends.
I was talking Sunday afternoon with Derwin Cooper, the first-year head coach of the Byhalia Indians. We were discussing the possibility of his Indians, the Hawks and the Cardinals all making it to Mississippi Coliseum this year, and the possibility of bringing home three state championships.
He said last Saturday night, after his team had defeated Greenwood and coach Sylvester Kilgore’s Holly High squad had beaten Ruleville Central, CoachKilgore gave him a call, about midnight, to congratulate him.
“I like the relationship we all have,” Cooper said. “I’m new at the varsity level (coming from Galena), and they’ve all welcomed me with open arms.
“Coach (Jeremy) Dillard at Potts Camp and Coach Kilgore at Holly Springs, they both do a great job. We all have great respect for one another.”
My wife Pam and I were talking the other day about how many times we’ve made the trip south on I-55 to big basketball games since we moved here in 2001.
I can’t count them. I don’t really care about counting them. I just want to keep making the trips.
Every time I talk with Coach Kilgore at Holly High after a big game, he makes it a point to thank “Hawk nation.” The Holly Springs fans, every basketball season, are dedicated to cheering on their team. And that kind of support is crucial to any team’s success.
At Potts Camp, Coach Dillard’s Cardinals are once again filling the gymnasium. They’ve adopted the motto, “One Game At A Time,” and the fans are even displaying it in unity on bright red T-shirts.
Also Sunday afternoon, De-Mill Dixon, who takes photos for the newspaper, stopped by the office. We relived some of our favorite moments from “The Big House” and talked about hopefully creating more memories in 2019.
But no matter the outcomes, Marshall County should be proud of its teams.