Cellular South Miss-Lou Shootout pits area’s best private schools

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Love to talk basketball smack to your buddies about how the school you root for is better than the ones they support?

Well get ready to put your money where your mouth is, as this week’s Cellular South Miss-Lou Shootout that features eight Mississippi Private School Association teams will help to settle some of those friendly ribbings.

Play tips off with two girls games, which feature three area teams, and one boy’s game, which closes today’s play.

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&uot;This is the first in this area that I know,&uot; said tournament organizer Jerry Roberts. &uot;My goal is for this to grow and grow. The Prairie View boys are real good. From this point on, if your girls are good, they’re invited. If your boys are not, then they’re not. It brings money to the economy, and people have to travel here. I want it to be a good basketball tournament.&uot;

Roberts, a regional manager with Cellular South, sparked the idea last year and pitched it to former Adams Christian head coach Ricky Gray before Gray left for Enterprise this summer.

The thought was to have ACCS and Trinity host games for the bracket tournament. However, with the Saints just ending a state runner-up finish in football Thursday, the Rebels will entertain seven others.

&uot;In south Louisiana, they have the Sunkist Shootout,&uot; Roberts said. &uot;I wanted to get a tournament together for the private schools locally where we get a lot of the better schools in to play. My goal is for it to grow with all the good teams around here and have it by invitation only. It’s kind of like a preseason championship tournament.&uot;

A girl’s showdown between ACCS and Trinity opens play at 5:15 p.m. today, with girls and boys matchups between Huntington and Brookhaven to follow at 6:30 and 7:45 p.m., respectively.

Tensas, Prairie View, Central Private and Parklane round out the field, which is seeded on last year’s performance and this year’s potential, Roberts said.

&uot;We’ve played four games this season and so far we’ve been up and down,&uot; said Tensas boy’s head coach Chris Jacobs, whose team faces ACCS at 9 p.m. Tuesday. &uot;Like I told the boys this tournament is as good as it gets for basketball in this area.

&uot;It should be a good measuring stick for us. We’ve got ACCS on our regular schedule and, before we get into district, I’d like to get some postseason-type games under our belt to prepare us for the playoffs.&uot;

Trinity opens the tournament with Parklane at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday. Head coach David King, who holds the same position with the football team, hopes the shootout will help get his team’s mind off of the 19-14 loss to Heidelberg in the Class A state championship in Clinton Thursday.

Some of the same guys who don Saint basketball jerseys reluctantly put up the helmets and shoulder pads after the heartbreaking loss.

King has dealt with both the highs and lows immediately after the football season before.

&uot;Last year was tough after a devastating loss (to Prentiss Christian at South State) and the year before that we were on an all-time high because we had won a state championship,&uot; he said. &uot;I think this year these kids are ready for the challenge of making another run at state championship in basketball.&uot;