Local players to play in MAIS all-star game

Published 12:03am Wednesday, March 5, 2014

NATCHEZ — Countless hours in the gym throughout the summer when others were on vacation is the reason Tory Laird is where she is today.

The Adams County Christian School senior said summer workouts were brutal, but she had to put in the work if she wanted to accomplish big feats.

“The summer workouts were (very hard),” Laird said. “But I knew it was my senior year and I wanted to do everything I could to get to the championship.”

The hard work paid off as Laird led the Lady Rebels to a MAIS Class AA district championship and she was awarded the district’s most valuable player award.

Besides receiving MVP, Laird said she is most proud of being the team captain.

“I love being a leader and I love all (my teammates) with all my heart,” Laird said. “I’m glad they looked up to me as the leader. It was great playing with those girls.”

Just when Laird thought it couldn’t get any better, she received word she was selected for the South’s MAIS Class 2A and 3A all-star team and would be playing in the all-star game at Jackson Prep Academy Friday.

Lady Rebels head coach Melanie Hall said Laird is deserving of the opportunity to play among the state’s best players.

“(Our assistant coach) Brandyn Hall would open up the gym, and Tory and her teammates put in a lot of outside of practice time,” Hall said. “That is where you start to separate those who want to be better than average.

“You have to bring it every day. When she puts it into second gear, she is a great basketball player. It’s like (she goes into) a fearless mode.”

That fearless mode, Hall said, is what brings Laird to the all-star game, and Laird said she hopes to make a lot of great memories in her time there.

“I want to go and have fun, meet other people and play with other (great players),” Laird said. “I want to take it a little serious (as well) and go and play ball.”

Along with Laird, the Rebels’ Ryan Strong will also be heading to Jackson to compete in the boys’ all-star game,

Rebels head coach Richy Spears said Strong’s discipline is what landed him the honor.

“Ryan does everything you ask him to do, he is very coachable. He is a coach’s dream,” Spears said, “He’s going to work hard, he’s always hustling and doing what he can to get better.

“I’m glad he got on (the all-star team) because he deserved it.”

Laird and Strong will represent the South team in the all-star game Friday.

Just one class down, Trinity Episcopal School’s Arzell McCoy was selected to the South MAIS Class A all-star team, and with the dominating senior year he had with the Saints, the selection was the best ending to a stellar year that McCoy could ask for.

“This is pretty big as a senior,” McCoy said. “It’s something I always wanted to do for awhile now. Going to the all-star game is showing me I did what I had to do this season.”

McCoy put in the work as the Saints’ leading scorer alongside his younger brother Tommy McCoy, and helped lead the Saints to a 18-0 record and a showing in the MAIS Overall Tournament.

Saints head coach Edwin White said McCoy should return to Jackson with no regrets as many opportunities are available from playing in such a big game.

“There will always be scouts out there, so represent himself and his school, but also have fun,” White said. “Once you graduate, all you have from that point is memories, so he must make it count.”

McCoy will also play on Friday at Jackson Prep.