Cross to Choctaws

Published 9:31 am Friday, May 20, 2011

NATCHEZ — Intensity, hard work and athleticism are all important characteristics in any good basketball player. It was those three words that Trinity girls’ basketball coach Richy Spears used to describe the play of senior Madelyn Cross.

It was also those three characteristics that earned Cross a basketball scholarship to Mississippi College, which she signed Thursday morning at Trinity Episcopal School.

“I’m very excited,” Cross said. “I know that I’ll be able to play again next year and just because high school is over my basketball career is not over. I am very blessed to have this privilege.”

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Cross was a forward for the Lady Saints and averaged 16 points, nine rebounds and nearly five steals a game her senior season. The Lady Saints fell two points short in double overtime of winning the MAIS Class A state title.

Although Cross saw a lot of individual success her senior season, she wanted to thank her teammates as well.

“We made it all the way to the finals and that was great, even though we came up short,” Cross said. “I couldn’t ask for a better team to share (this experience) with.”

Spears said his team will miss Cross’ attitude next season.

“She will be missed more because of her leadership,” Spears said. “The other players looked up to her because she played so hard. It was a blessing and a coach’s dream (to coach her). She never said anything back, she was just quiet and did her job.”

Cross was also blessed with outstanding natural ability to go along with her intensity, Spears said.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever coached anybody as athletic (as Cross), boy or girl,” Spears said. “She is extremely athletic and her awareness on the floor and anticipation about what was going to happen (were outstanding). She had that instinct and it’s hard to coach that.”

Cross said she decided on Mississippi College because of its proximity to home and her comfort with the campus and coaches.

“We played up there in (the overall state tournament) and they have nice facilities, the coaches are real nice and the people up there are real nice,” Cross said. “It’s just a nice place and I really am looking forward to it.”

Cross also had interest from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas and Millsaps College.

Spears said it is a coach’s dream to see his players go on to the next level and further their education.

Cross’s parents Monica and Ruffin Cross were on hand to watch their daughter sign her letter of intent, as was her brother Caleb Cross.

“We are very happy,” Monica said. “She finished very strong academically this year. (And on the basketball court) she is determined, very focused and has good work ethic.”

Cross said she is unsure of her plans for her freshman year at Mississippi College. She does not know what she wants to study yet and she is also unsure about her role on the basketball team.

“I’m just going to go up and work hard and if my hard work pays off and I do get some playing time next year I’ll be really thankful,” Cross said.