Guice leaves Trinity, may play Friday with Jefferson County

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

The scrappy Jefferson County Tigers will improve this season. They’ll just have to wait until Friday.

It won’t be until then when former Trinity Episcopal standout athlete Dudley Guice Jr. will be able to suit up after he enrolled at Jefferson County at noon Friday. Much like transfer rules for athletes entering the MPSA, Guice will have to sit out a week before becoming eligible in the MHSAA since he resides in Fayette.

Guice, a senior who verbally committed to Mississippi State in football, will likely suit up Friday when the Tigers visit Forest Hill in the Jackson Public Schools tournament.

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&uot;Once we get him into the MHSAA, he’ll be ours,&uot; Jefferson County head coach Marcus Walton said Friday. &uot;I’m talking with the MHSAA, and as soon as his eligibility clears, he’ll be eligible to play. That’s straight from the MHSAA office because he resides in our district. It’s not like he’s coming from somewhere else.&uot;

The addition of Guice would be a welcomed addition for the Tigers, who are minus a big man in the post following the graduation of Juan Wyatt last year. So far freshman Joseph Kemp has played in the middle, but Guice would bring a scoring source to complement guards Joshfer Nichols and Christopher Carradine.

Guice, close friends with both Nichols and Carradine, went to school in Jefferson County until the eighth grade. Guice averaged 21 points and 15 rebounds last year and was named District 7-A co-MVP along with being named to the All-MPSA team, a unit selected regardless of class.

&uot;They’re already a great team,&uot; Guice said. &uot;Some of the teams they play don’t have big people, and I want to play, make a presence and have some fun out there. Basically everybody is excited. They want to see me come out that first game, do some dunks and get the crowd into it. I’m trying to help them get to the big house like they did last year.&uot;

The addition of Guice at the midway point in the season may cause the Tigers to shift their current lineup, and Walton said he may not play that much at the start. The Tigers opened region play with three straight wins before falling to Wilkinson County on Friday, a game Guice watched from the Tigers’ bench.

&uot;I haven’t seen Dudley in other than pick-up games,&uot; said Walton, who coached Guice’s brother, Ronald, some five years ago. &uot;I heard some good things about him. He’s an incredible-looking athlete. If he comes in with hard work and discipline on his mind, he can really contribute to this team.&uot;

&uot;It depends on how well he jells with the kids who have already jelled here. The better he fits in with the team chemistry, the better it’ll be for the whole team. It really boils down to the team.&uot;

The decision to leave Trinity was a controversial one after Guice and the Saints’ football squad ended the season at the Class A state championship, a 19-14 loss to Heidelberg. Guice finished the season with 55 catches for 944 yards and 17 touchdowns, including two for scores in the championship game.

Guice didn’t suit up for basketball at the Cellular South Miss-Lou Classic the following week. Reports surfaced later of Nichols transferring to Trinity to play alongside Guice, but soon after Guice opted to leave the school.

&uot;I miss some of my friends, but the way I feel right now I made a good decision,&uot; Guice said. &uot;I don’t have to worry about people saying this and this about me. I want to be positive. I didn’t feel like I was welcome. But I’m just ready to have some fun &045; get used to the blue and gold and have some fun.&uot;

Guice’s departure left a void in the Saints’ lineup along with the injury to point guard Chase Brown, but Trinity moved up players in his place and have since moved on. They’ve also welcomed post player Robert Manson, an Australian exchange student who debuted this past week.

Manson had 23 points Friday against Tensas and 24 Saturday against Ben’s Ford.

&uot;We wish him the best of luck,&uot; Trinity head coach David King said. &uot;Our program was good before him, with him and will be good after him. We wish him the best of luck and hope he has a good career at Mississippi State.&uot;

HEATED BATTLES &045; The Region 7-3A showdown between Wilkinson County and Jefferson County was just another installment of a rivalry that gets more thrilling each time the two teams jump ball.

The Wildcats (5-7, 2-2) got five free throws in the final 32.8 seconds to preserve the 55-52 victory over the Tigers, who had won their first three 7-3A games before Friday.

&uot;Every time we play Jefferson County it’s always close,&uot; WC head coach Henry Storey said. &uot;Marcus has done a great job with his kids, and I look forward to playing them at home.&uot;

LEADING ON &045; Ferriday sophomore guard Jameca Garrison has been under the microscope this season as the only returning starter on a rebuilding Lady Trojans team. Garrison had 32 points and played a pivotal role in the team’s full-court press that gave the Lady Vikings problems.

&uot;She was the catalyst on defense,&uot; Ferriday head coach Lisa Abron said. &uot;It starts with her.

I keep telling her she’s got to be the one to make that happen. If she starts it, somebody else will finish it. She’s working hard at adjusting to that leadership role, but (Friday) she stepped up.&uot;