Race in 4-5A boys getting cranked up; Jefferson County hitting skids

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 19, 2003

Nothing is finalized as far as races in your favorite districts or divisions are concerned, but by now you know who’s going to be there.

Races have taken enough shape by now for everyone to pinpoint a favorite or two and weed out those who are inferior.

But that’s not the case in Division 4-5A.

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In fact, it’s not even close on the boys’ side. Just when people were thinking of squeezing Natchez High out of the picture, the Bulldogs step up and beat Clinton to make things quite interesting.

In the four-team division race that is past the halfway point, nothing is close to certain. Seedings for the division tournament may be nothing more than window dressing.

&uot;This division is wide open,&uot; Clinton head coach Bruce Robinson said. &uot;It doesn’t matter one, two, three of four. I’d hate to have to play Natchez in a put-out game. This (loss) doesn’t hurt us. I’m hoping to get second or third (seed). No one of us is head and shoulders above the rest. We’ve still got (Natchez) at home, Vicksburg at home and have to go to Warren Central.&uot;

The Bulldogs &045; with a tweaked roster &045; are in as good shape as anybody now at 1-3. Things were bleak there with an 0-3 start for the rebuilding Bulldogs, but did anyone expect a Mike Martin team just to lay down?

&uot;The division is open,&uot; Natchez High guard Leon Stewart said. &uot;It’s a long way from being decided. When we came into (Friday’s) game, we really thought we were going to win. We had that mentality in our heads. We went out and played the way we play, and the result was a win.&uot;

The Bulldogs have two games left &045; Vicksburg at home and Clinton on the road &045; while Vicksburg and Warren Central are at the top of the standings.

The division tournament is three weeks away. Don’t go anywhere.

LADY BULLDOGS’ INSIDE &045; There were two questions from the start of the Natchez girls’ game Friday against Clinton.

Where was head coach Mary Irving?

Where was standout post player Crystal L. Brown?

Irving was ill, and assistant coaches Sue Johnson and Steve McClatchy were there to pick up the slack. Brown sat out the first quarter for missing a practice, but sophomore Deliqua Drake picked up the slack there as well.

Drake had six points in the first quarter, and after Brown entered the two combined for 25 points to help Natchez down Clinton, 61-43.

Brown’s contributions are nothing new, but Drake is getting more and more playing time down there.

&uot;DQ and CB got quite a few down there,&uot; McClatchy said. &uot;That’s one thing we said at halftime &045; don’t force a pass inside, move it around and when it’s open go inside. She (Drake) is doing a good job of moving inside and getting rebounds. She’s been starting a few games.&uot;

NO TIME FOR FINGER POINTING &045; Despite Jefferson County’s struggles this year &045; the Tigers are 7-11 and 3-5 in division 7-3A &045; big man Juan Wyatt is taking the high road and not scapegoating any one for the failures.

The 6-7 Tiger scored nine points in the first period to stake Jefferson County out to a 13-4 lead after the first eight minutes against Franklin County, Friday. The senior scored just two points the rest of the way, including zero in the second half as the Bulldogs came back to win 49-46.

&uot;We just laid down and let them (Franklin County) feel like they could play with us,&uot; Wyatt said. &uot;We got frustrated too easy and didn’t take our time.&uot;

CLOCK IS TICKING &045; The well may be drying up quickly in this 2002-03 season, but Jefferson County head coach Marcus Walton remains upbeat and confident his Tigers can turn the tide.

Right now it seems it is not so much about repeating as state champs for the Tigers, but just salvaging what has so far been a disappointing season.

Walton takes solace in knowing his players have not performed up to their own high standards for four complete periods.

&uot;A lot of teams by this point have peaked already, but we’re still on our way which is good,&uot; Walton said. &uot;We have something to work toward. The season isn’t nearly over yet.&uot;

It rolls on once again this Tuesday when the Tigers get a chance to avenge an earlier district loss to Wilkinson County as the Wildcats bring their impressive records to Fayette.

Chuck Corder contributed to this report.