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NHS hosts alumni basketball games

2012 Natchez High School graduate Ashley Minor puts up an uncontested shot during the third annual Natchez High School Alumni All-Star Night Saturday evening. Minor led the 2000s womens squad with 13 points. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
2012 Natchez High School graduate Ashley Minor puts up an uncontested shot during the third annual Natchez High School Alumni All-Star Night Saturday evening. Minor led the 2000s womens squad with 13 points. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — She may not have any high school eligibility left, but that didn’t stop Ashley Minor from picking up right where she left off the last time she played in the Mary Jean Irving Gymnasium.

The former Natchez High School girls basketball standout and current Copiah-Lincoln Community College standout was on-hand to represent the class of 2012 in the annual NHS alumni basketball game.

Mens and womens teams were divided between players who graduated from the 1990s and the 2000s, and Minor helped lead the 2000s squad to a 58-32 win by scoring 13 points.

“It felt great,” Minor said of being back on the court in front of her hometown fans. “It was a good experience. I’m still in shape from college ball, so it was kind of a disadvantage (for the older players). Their legs are old, so I was trying to take it light, but they were running with us.”

2009 Natchez High School graduate Alia Frank, center, hauls in a rebound between Nicky Johnson, left, and  Alexine Wright during the third annual Natchez High School Alumni All-Star Night at the high school Saturday evening. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
2009 Natchez High School graduate Alia Frank, center, hauls in a rebound between Nicky Johnson, left, and Alexine Wright during the third annual Natchez High School Alumni All-Star Night at the high school Saturday evening. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

Saturday night’s game marked the third year NHS has hosted an alumni basketball event. Coordinator Corey Isaac, a 1997 graduate of NHS, organized the event to help raise funds for Bulldogs athletics in light of recent budget cuts.

“We’re just trying to continue to give back to the community,” said Isaac, who currently lives in Dallas. “If we don’t have this, we won’t have the sports programs. They can’t get the uniforms and things that they need. I felt like if I ever got into a position where I was financially able to help, I would.”

The weekend kicked off with a meet-and-greet Friday night, along with an Easter egg hunt for children and a cancer awareness seminar Saturday morning and afternoon, followed by the games Saturday night. The alumni event will conclude with a church service this Easter morning, Isaac said.

Shagara Jackson, a 1997 alumna who led the 1990s squad with seven points, points, said she’s competed in all three alumni basketball games since it became an annual event.

“It’s nice to see my old teachers and my old classmates,” Jackson said. “It gives the people a chance to come back and get together on a positive note, rather than coming back for a funeral or something like that.”

After facing some much younger women, Jackson admitted it was hard to keep pace at times.

“I was tired, very tired,” Jackson said, laughing.

In the mens’ game, the 2000s squad topped the 1990s squad 72-69. NHS boys assistant coach and 2000 graduate David Haywood, who led the 2000s mens squad with 25 points, said getting to compete in the floor of his hometown gym brought back good memories.

“The memories I think about every day because I’m in the gym so much,” Haywood said. “I had two of my teammates pass away, Edwin Harris and James West, so I think about all the good times we had on the court.”

Morris Credit, who graduated in 1997 and scored two points for the 1990s mens squad, said this was his first year to compete in the alumni game, and he said the competition was the main draw for him.

“I wanted to just have some fun with the guys,” Credit said. “The atmosphere, the crowd, the fans — I always played for the fans and liked seeing the enthusiasm. Just seeing the court brought tears to my eyes. I never thought I’d get the chance to play on this court again.”

Like Credit, Minor said the draw of a hometown crowd was too much to pass up.

“This is home,” Minor said. “I have to come back. I love being here. I haven’t played in here since my senior year, so it felt great to come back.”