Only a handful of area basketball teams remain in the South State Basketball Tournament, but those that are still alive have high hopes for the rest of the postseason.
Forrest County AHS and Bassfield’s girls are two victories from returning to the State Tournament at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson, while Laurel’s girls, and Columbia, Bassfield and Laurel’s boys are also still in the running for a shot to play at the “Big House.”
Lady Aggies head coach Michael Thornton has his team at 24-4 a year after losing seven of his 14 players from last season’s Class 4A State runners-up. FCAHS will take on South Pike at 8:30 p.m. today at Bay High.
“Being in this position is quite an accomplishment for our girls,” he said. “But at the same time, we know we have to play better than we did against Northeast Jones (on Monday). We’re two games away from returning to Jackson, and our goal is to get there.
“I’m proud of the girls.”
FCAHS is led by Tmisht Stinson, who averages 17.9 points per game, and Kam Tarvin, who scores an average of 11.8 points per game.
Thornton is confident in his team, but he also knows the level of competition in South 4A is as stout as it’s ever been.
Three of the Lady Aggies’ four losses this season have come to undefeated Bay High, and six of the eight teams left in the South have 20 wins or more.
“There are a lot of very good teams with very good records in this tournament,” Thornton said. “But all we’ve preached since Monday is win two in a row. If you can do that, you’re in Jackson where anything can happen.”
Bassfield’s girls will travel to Scott Central, where the Lady Yellowjackets will take on Bay Springs at 8:30 p.m.
Bassfield head coach Sylvia Hall said after beating Bay Springs earlier this season, she and her team are carrying a lot of confidence into tonight’s contest.
“They’re a good club,” she said. “They get after you, now. They don’t let up, no matter what the score is.”
The Lady Yellowjackets will also carry a 24-2 record into the game against Bay Springs.
Bassfield’s boys (20-5) are set to take on Taylorsville at 8:30 p.m. today at Bassfield.
Head coach Charlie James said his team is excited to have the opportunity to host the South State Tournament.
“I preach to them every day about seizing the moment,” he said. “Taking care of the business at hand, so they’re definitely excited.”
James has scouted Taylorsville and understands the Tartars will be a force to be reckoned with and nothing to be taken lightly.
“They’re an extremely well coached team with a lot of talent,” he said. “They’ve got good inside guys, a really good point guard that likes to penetrate and a guy that can shoot the lights out.
“Hopefully we’ll show up and be ready to get after it.”
Columbia is set to square off against Quitman in the Class 4A South State Tournament at 8:30 p.m. today at Columbia.
Laurel’s boys will take on Port Gibson at 4 p.m. at Columbia, while Laurel’s girls will travel to Bay High where they will do battle with Raymond at 7 p.m.