Jackson Prep won its first MAIS state tournament girls championship since 2006 this past weekend and now is two wins away for its first Overall Tournament title since the same year.
Prep defeated arch rivals Jackson Academy in the semifinals Friday and Madison-Ridgeland Academy in the finals Saturday at Parklane Academy in McComb.
“Ever since I took this job in April of 2014, I have wanted to win a championship for this program,” said Prep coach Michael McAnally, who played point guard for coach Gerald Austin and won an Overall title with Prep in 1996. “I’ve watched many other programs win a number of championships. We got to the finals in 2016 and again last season. To finish it this season, especially beating the two teams who we had been unable to beat during the regular season, is very satisfying.
“We felt like we had not played well against either of those teams. We had had good starts, but just wasn’t able to finish the game. Those two teams had a lot to do with it because they are both very good teams. The biggest thing for us last week is that we made some shots early and were able to play with the lead. That allowed us to settle in to the game and allowed us to play with confidence.”
Prep, 27-9, meets Class 4A state champion Hartfield, 32-4, Friday at 1 p.m. in the Overall semifinals. The two teams have split in two meetings this season.
Prep’s starting lineup is senior point guard Campbell Perkins, senior forward Mackenzie Shoemaker, senior post Julia Zouboukos, junior wing Olivia Sasser and sophomore wing Olivia Smith. Zouboukos leads Prep with 10.6 points and 8.3 rebounds. Sasser averages 9.7 points and 4.9 rebounds and Shoemaker 6.4 points and 3.6 rebounds.
McAnally won an Overall title in 2010 when star guard Brooke Rhodes led East Rankin Academy to a 35-2 record and defeated Pillow and coach Durwin Carpenter for the championship. If Prep and Pillow, which plays Simpson in the other semifinal Friday, both win McAnally and Carpenter would meet again in the Overall championship game.
McAnally, who is assisted by Amber Stack and Mariclaire Nix, has won 541 boys and girls games in his 19years as a head coach with stops at Huntington, La., (2001-2003), Copiah (2003-2006), East Rankin (2006-2014) and Prep.
Coach Spencer Gatlin is three wins from making history at Wingfield High. Not since 1969 has the boys basketball team won a state championship. That year Coach Buddy Bounds and star players Bill Singletary and Bill Sitton led the Falcons to the 33-5 record and the Class AA state title.
Wingfield has been back to the state tournament a few times since (1975 losing to Gulfport in the championship game and 2006 losing to Madison Central on a last-second shot in the first round). They haven’t been back since. In 2010, Wingfield was 29-0 before losing to NBA and Duke alumnus Rodney Hood of Meridian in the first round of the playoffs. That was the last season Wingfield won 20 games.
Gatlin, who played for Wayne Brent at Provine High in the early 1990s, has coached at Provine as an assistant coach and won a state title with Luther Riley and then was the first head coach at Germantown High for five years before coming to Wingfield four years ago.
This year’s Wingfield team is 21-11 and plays Natchez in the Class 5A quarterfinals Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at Pearl River Community College. The winner plays next week at the Mississippi Coliseum in the semifinals. The championship will be played at Ole Miss.
Damarion Arrington, a 6-foot-4 senior guard-forward averages 17.1 points per game. Other top players are 6-2 senior guard-forward Deonta Griffin (12.5 points), 6-4 senior guard Jaqwone Curry (10.6 points) and 6-5 junior guard Kentavian Hogan (10.5 points).
Gatlin has taken Wingfield to the Sweet 16 for the past two years and defeated Hattiesburg this past weekend to make to the quarterfinals. Hattiesburg ended Wingfield’sseason last year.
Defending Class 6A team tennis state champion Madison Central opened the season with a 4-3 victory Tuesday over St. Andrew’s.
The top returnees for the Jaguars both won individual state championships last season. Junior Walker Ellis won the 6A boys singles state title after winning two mixed doubles state titles. Junior Ann Cabot Stockett won the 6A girls singles title after winning three mixed doubles state titles.
Stockett won singles, Emme Liles and Margaret Anne Henderson at No. 1 girls doubles, Molly Bennett and Allie Kelly at No. 2 girls doubles, Robert Ticker and Anderson Riggs at No. 2 doubles and Matthew Yin and AlexaAinsworth at mixed doubles. Ellis was sick and did not play.
Liles combined with Dailee Ellis, Walker’s sister, for a runner up in finish in the 6A state tournament last season. Ellis graduated this past year.
Senior Clay Fudge, a Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College signee, and junior Bryant Buteaucombined for a runner up finish in boys doubles in the 6A state tournament last season. Fudge suffered a torn ACL this fall and is expected to miss this season and Buteau is out with back issues and is out indefinitely, according to Madison Central coach Brad Boteler.
Boteler, who played for Madison Central and Mississippi College, begins his 16th season with Jaguar tennis and sixth season as the head coach. He has led his team to the 6A team state title three of the past four seasons.
Madison Central is scheduled to play again today against Warren Central. The Jaguars will play a doubles tournament with Jackson Academy, Northwest Rankin and Newton County High Saturday at the Reservoir YMCA. Madison Central plays host to Oxford in a rematch of last year’s Class 6A state semifinal match Monday at Ridgeland Tennis Center.