By Austin Bishop
The Winston County Journal
Sometimes something gets so big and so good you just can’t improve on it. And then again, maybe you can.
This year’s Mid-Mississippi Challenge, being hosted at Choctaw County High School in Ackerman, features 10 girls basketball games, with nine of the teams taking part being ranked by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger in their various classifications. Four of those are part of the prestigious Super 10.
“This is the seventh one and this may be the best one,” said Choctaw County head coach and event organizer Gary Beals. “We have had some good ones, but it’s going to be hard to beat this.”
Action tips off this Saturday at 9 a.m. when host Choctaw County takes on county rival French Camp, with games scheduled one hour and 15 minutes apart until Starkville Academy is set to take the floor against Meridian High School with a scheduled tip-off time of 8:15 p.m.
“There are some great teams that are going to be here and some great players as well,” Beals said. Among those is Mississippi State signee Victoria Vivians, who is expected to be the state’s all-time leading scorer by the time she and her Scott Central teammates are set to take on Tupelo at 5:45 p.m.
Tupelo, which begins the week at 17-1 and is ranked No. 4 in the Super 10 and No. 3 in Class 6A is led by junior point guard Jaleigha Polk. Vivians leads Scott Central, which is 15-3 and ranked No. 2 in Class 2A, with an amazing average of 45.6 points per game.
“She is just a good kid and a hard worker and a great player,” Beals said of the 6-foot senior, who signed early with the Lady Bulldogs of MSU.
One of the featured games has a pair of Super 10 teams squaring off when No. 3 ranked New Hope takes on No. 8 Brandon. New Hope, 15-1, is the top-ranked team in 5A, while Brandon began the week at 15-3.
The nightcap should also be interesting as Meridian High School, ranked No. 7 in the Super 10 and No. 5 in 5A matches up against Starkville Academy, which comes in with a 16-7 record and is ranked No. 5 in MAIS AAA. The Lady Wildcats of MHS are 18-3.
Other ranked teams taking part in the contest are East Webster (No. 5 in 2A) which plays Starkville High School at 12:45; Stringer (No. 2 in 1A) which faces West Union at 2 p.m.; and Canton, ranked No. 3 in 5A, which takes on New Site.
Another traditional power, Choctaw Central is set to tip against Amite County at 4:30 p.m.
The rest of the schedule has Nanih Waiya taking on J.Z. George at 10:15 a.m., and Union High School facing Nettelton at 11:30 a.m.
Admission is $5 to the event, which includes all 10 games.
“The coaches just really seem to like it,” Beals said. “They can come and get a good game and also see some of the other top teams and talent in the state at the same time. Also Coach (Adam) Dillinger does such an excellent job with the hospitality room and people really just enjoy coming and being here. We are also ideally situated in the state, Most of the teams can get her in less than an hour and a half.”