It’s always good making the trip south on I-55 to Mississippi Coliseum.
That means our local teams are in “The Big House” for the state basketball tournament.
This year was no exception.
I had to miss the Monday, March 4, semi-final games for the Potts Camp Cardinals and the Byhalia Indians due to my press deadlines here at the newspaper office.
But I had the two teams well-covered, thanks to bookkeepers, coaches and photographers. And thanks to local radio stationWKRA (92.7), I was able to listen to the live broadcasts.
I particularly want to say “thank you” to coach Jeremy Dillard (Potts Camp) and coach Derwin Cooper (Byhalia) for answering my phone calls shortly after the games.
Their tremendous seasons came to an end in the semi-finals, but they took time to talk to yours truly so I could get the game reports in last week’s newspaper.
Then on Wednesday, March 6, after the newspaper had hit the streets, DeMill Dixon and I headed to Jackson to cover the HollySprings Hawks in the Class 3A semi-finals, and we made the return trip Saturday for the championship game.
It’s always good seeing other vehicles with Marshall County tags along the route.
Potts Camp, Byhalia and Holly High fans are to be commended for supporting their teams a long way from home.
Basketball is huge in Marshall County, and wow, getting three teams in the final four of their respective classifications, that’s a fantastic accomplishment. It speaks highly of the three schools, administrators, coaches and players.
And the Cardinals, Indians and Hawks represented our county well – lots of heart, determination, athletic ability and hard play.
Something in particular caught my eye following Holly High’s loss to Velma Jackson Saturday afternoon in the title game.
Lots of Holly High supporters waited outside the Hawks’ locker room.
And when the Hawks and their coaches started coming out, they cheered and cheered. The goal is first place, but second is definitely something to be proud of, too. The fans let their Hawks know that.
There were lots and lots of smiles, hugs, congratulations and laughter. And that’s the way it should have been.
The basketball season is long. The work for these young athletes is year-round.
Each of these teams – Potts Camp, Byhalia and Holly Springs – had 20-win seasons. And each were still playing basketball when most teams across the state had turned in their uniforms for the year.
And coach Sylvester Kilgore, as always, was gracious, win or lose. He, too, took my questions right after the game, knowing I had a job to do and always appreciative of the community newspaper.
I’ve got a lot of great personal memories over the years from “The Big House.” And, yes, that includes state championships.
But most of all, my memories are from just watching the high school players perform to their best ability and enjoying life on the big stage.
And the thing I like the most is the way they handle themselves – with class and sportsmanship. They always make Marshall County proud.