Four from Miss-Lou battle at state today

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; How do you expect a team this young to react to making the state tournament for the first time in about 15 years?

Just like it has all season &045; hey, it’s more games to play.

The season that’s been an absolute pleasure for head coach John R. Gray continues today at the Class AA state tournament as the Adams Christian Lady Rebels make their first appearance at this state since the late 1980s.

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The Lady Rebels, runners-up out of the South, will face North No. 3 Simpson Academy at 4 p.m. today at Brookhaven Academy as one of five teams remaining among MPSA members in the Miss-Lou.

&uot;According to them, it’s been several years since they’ve been,&uot; Gray said. &uot;Of course, they’re so young and inexperienced in tournament play. But they’re in a position with a chance to win. Most times if you’re a No. 4 (seed), you’re really happy to be there and not with a deep-down belief that you’re going to win.

&uot;Here, they think they can win, and I’m not going to take that away from them. They’re excited to get to go. I don’t think it’s crossed their minds they’re the No. 2 seed.&uot;

The Lady Rebels have a chance to keep their season going as well as they played last week at the South State tournament in landing in the championship game. Now it’s up against tough competition from the North, and the Lady Rebels hope to keep the outside shooting and offense rolling along with their defense.

One win ensures the Lady Rebels of another week of games in the Overall tournament, and a win would put them against the winner of the Trinity-Leake Academy game on Friday.

&uot;If fell as well as it could fall for us,&uot; Gray said. &uot;I think Brookhaven and Leake are by far the top two teams in double-A. Then I feel Indianola may be the third-best. Simpson is really good. All the teams from the North are extremely strong. Simpson is so athletic &045; sort of like their football team. But they’re beatable if we play well and don’t catch them on a good night.&uot;

The Lady Cougars will feature a strong post player along with guard play from the Hilton twins on the perimeter. The Lady Rebels hope they match up with Mattie Geoghegan inside and Brittany Gamberi and Katie Ann Swinny at guards.

Winston vs. Trinity boys

Both teams moved up from Class A this season after matching up in the consolation championship at the state tournament last year, so here they are again.

It’s Trinity and Winston, and Winston has the motivation. And the experience. The two teams will meet at 5:15 p.m. today.

&uot;They have the exact same starters from a year ago,&uot; Trinity head coach David King said. &uot;They have really put up a good year. At this point there are only eight teams left, and we’re fortunate to still be playing basketball. But playing at this point is really good.&uot;

The Saints enter as the No. 2 seed out of the South after fighting their way to the championship last week with wins over Adams Christian and Prairie View. The Saints hope to continue their season with a win today, but it’ll take another grand effort on defense.

Winston will have post players 6-3 and 6-4 down low matching up Stevan Ridley.

&uot;Being the first year in double-A after all the success we had in single-A, to get to this point we feel really good to be one of the top teams in the South,&uot; King said. &uot;The kids made a pact they would give it all they had, and they did. (Winston) really shoots the ball well. Not only do they have the good inside, they also have the shooters. It’s another tough test for us, but the last two or three have been, too.&uot;

WCCA boys vs. Winona

The Rams are also snapping a dry spell of state tournament appearances. It’s their first since the 1992-93 season, the year they won a state championship.

Now they’re in it for the first time in 12 years.

&uot;I think that’s the only time they’ve been to state,&uot; WCCA head coach Ray Olive said. &uot;We’re excited. This season has had a lot of lows and a lot of highs. We’ve played through them and fought through them all. We’ve come this far, and we’re not ready to go home.&uot;

The Rams have turned it on in recent weeks by finishing strong in their district tournament and claiming third place at the South Central tournament last week at Kemper. Now they’re in as the No. 3 seed and will face North No. 2 seed Winona Christian in the first round at 5:45 p.m. today at Delta Academy.

&uot;Our kids have bought into the idea that they’re very good defensive players,&uot; Olive said. &uot;If they will play smart on the defensive end, it will improve your offense. Good defense makes for good offense.&uot;

Trinity girls

The Lady Saints enter as the No. 4 team out of the South and will face North champion Leake Academy in the first round.

The Lady Saints have been a feel-good story of the year in girls this season after losing a key starter down the stretch and making the finals of their district tournament. They lost last week in the South State to ACCS in the semifinals.