Callaway junior guard Daeshun Ruffin is considered one of the top juniors in the country and had a great game in the Class 5A championship game against Center Hill. Ruffin scored 33 points to lead Callaway to a 78-62 victory Friday night at the Pavilion at Ole Miss in Oxford.
But Ruffin wasn’t the only star for Coach David Sanders’ team in the title game. John Crumley, a 6-foot-7 senior center, had the best game of his high school career with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
“John is a great teammate and extremely coachable,” Sanders said. “He is a four-year kid for me who has worked his behind off. He’s a late bloomer. John has a really good shooting touch. He is actually one of my best 3-point shooters. John has every post move you can ask for on the block, but his biggest weapon is his right hand hook shot. He put it on display against Center Hill.”
Crumley averaged 9 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots this season. He signed with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, but has reopened his recruitment after the coach who recruited Crumley, Jason Harrison, is no longer the coach, Sanders said.
A new star burst onto the Mississippi high school basketball scene last week in the Boys State Tournament.
Jake Dowdell, a 6-3 sophomore guard, made his first five 3-point shots and scored 15 points to help St. Andrew’s to a 64-54 victory over Holly Springs in the Class 3A semifinals at the Mississippi Coliseum, a spacious arena that most long range shooters have problems shooting in. Dowdell’s long range accuracy was big to help St. Andrew’s defeat Holly Springs, the same team that defeated St. Andrew’s in the semifinals last season.
Dowdell made 3 of 5 shots from 3-point range to help St. Andrew’s defeated district rival Yazoo City in the quarterfinals at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum, another arena that many long range shooters have trouble adjusting to.
Dowdell scored 10 points, 2 3-pointers, and had a team-high three assists in St. Andrew’s 62-41 victory over defending state champion Velma Jackson for the 3A state title at the Pavilion at Ole Miss in Oxford.
St. Andrew’s coach Brian Cronin is excited about the future of Dowdell, who averaged 11 points per game this season.
“Jake’s growth this season was tremendous,” Cronin said. “He played along side (junior guard) Rashad (Bolden) and he forced Jake to learn how to move without the ball and find ways to score because of all the attention Rashadcreates. Jake got better as the year went on and learned to be an effective player on both ends of the floor. He went 10 for 13 from the 3-point line in a district game this season. He stepped up this postseason hitting timely shots to help us to our second title in three seasons.”
Dowdell’s father, Marc, is a 6-9 and played for Villanova from 1988-92 for the late coach Rollie Massimino, who coached one of the greatest upsets in NCAA Tournament championship history when Villanova shocked Georgetown in 1985. Marc was a senior in Massimino’s last season at Villanova. He is still tied for the career high for blocked shots in school history.
“Jake will continue to grow physically and mentally and could become one of the best shooters in Mississippi in a couple of years,” Cronin said. “Our guard play should be pretty strong with Jake and Rashad coming back next year.”
Hartfield baseball coach Chuck Box knows about winning MAIS state championships after winning six of them in his 10 years at Jackson Prep. He might make a run at his first at Hartfield this year, his third season there. The Hawks are off to a great start with a 12-3 record and with wins over three defending MAIS state champions, Prep, Heritage Academy and Brookhaven Academy.
“We are very pleased with where we are at this point in the season,” said Box, who has a 698-321 career record in 24 seasons as a head coach at Freed-Hardeman University, Itawamba Community College, Prep and Hartfield. “We are battling through a few injuries at this moment, but we have had a few guys step up. One of our concerns with a young club is the moment because too big, but so far that has not happened very often. Our pitching has been excellent, especially considering how young we are.”
Box’s top players are sophomore outfielder Colton Bradley, sophomore outfielder/left-handed pitcher Lincoln Sheffield and freshman left-handed pitcher/outfielder BrodeyWalker, all Mississippi State verbal commitments. His top pitchers are freshman right-hander Dawson Muenzenmayand sophomore right-hander Alex McGarrth.
Hartfield’s next game is Thursday at 1 p.m. against Pillow Academy in a doubleheader at Flowood.