Jones making case as North Mississippi’s best


This may be the deepest year of individual basketball talent in quite some time in North Mississippi. Pontotoc’s Ty Jones has an argument to be on top of the list.

Jones, a 6-foot-6, 205 pound versatile junior G/F, was on full display at the Bob Jones N2Hoops Invitational in Alabama.

In a 55-47 loss to Class 7A Bob Jones, Ty Jones had 25 points and 11 rebounds. In a 51-50 OT win against 5A Pope John Paul II, he had 30 points and eight boards. And in a 58-56 loss to 7A Grissom, Jones had 42 points and 10 rebounds.

“Jones has improved dramatically, across the board,” Pontotoc coach Chris Vandiver said before the season.

Pontotoc is 6-2 and a legit force in Mississippi 4A. Eight games in, Jones is averaging 25.5 points (14 points higher than his sophomore season), 8.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. The Warriors host Southaven and Tupelo next week.

More on the Warriors in Friday’s Daily Journal.


Posted in Basketball

Scores from Tuesday, Nov. 24

(G) Itawamba 61, New Albany 35
(G) Ripley 59, Kossuth 56
(G)  Ingomar 53, Shannon 28
(G) Jumpertown 78, Baldwyn 75
(G) Oxford 50, Cleveland 36
(G) West Union 63, Tremont 46
(B) Niceville, Fla. 71, Calhoun City 58
(B) New Albany 90, Itawamba AHS 73
(B) Baldwyn 79, Jumpertown 47
(B) Ripley 67, Kossuth 42
(B) Ingomar 50, Cleveland 41
(B) Shannon 64, Niceville, Fla. 63
(B) West Union 57, Tremont 48
(B) New Site 53, Walnut 47

Posted in Sports

TCPS QB Kitchens receives first offer


Coach Shaune Holiday is doing all he can to get Tupelo Christian football on the map. The Eagles set a school record with eight wins this season and play one more year of independent ball before going into MHSAA division play in 2017.

Monday, some of the hard work paid off. Senior QB Caleb Kitchens received a scholarship offer from Cincinnati’s Mount Saint Joseph. Kitchens threw for 1,777 yards this season on 120-of-207 passing with 21 touchdowns against five picks.

Posted in Football

Scores from Saturday, Nov. 21

(G) Biggersville 60, Mooreville 40
(G) Phil Campbell, Ala. 46, Mantachie 44
(G) Sulligent, Ala. 46, Tremont 39
(G) Choctaw Central 55, Ingomar 46
(G) New Site 68, Wheeler 36
(B) Tishomingo County 52, Wheeler 44
(B) Phil Campbell, Ala. 66, Mantachie 51
(B) Choctaw Central 70, Ingomar 62
(B) Sulligent, Ala. 55, Tremont 40
(B) Saltillo 86, Biggersville 56

Posted in Sports

Baldwyn LB Price talks Baldwyn quarterfinals win


Baldwyn’s defense did it again Friday night. 

Calhoun City had scored 42 points a game in its last three. Baldwyn’s defensive front made matching that output a problem. Big DT Jimmy Tyes had 17 tackles. LB Jacob Harper had 13. DT Zack Richardson had nine tackles, three TFLs. At safety, Duke Upshaw had nine tackles.

Calhoun City RB Brieton Sykes got his, 134 yards on 25 carries. Outside that, Baldwyn held the Wildcats to 235 total yards, City’s lowest since Week 1.

Winners of 10 straight, Baldwyn (12-2) is allowing a mere 11.9 points per game and for those who thought it was all a product of a less-than-stout division schedule, see Eupora and Calhoun City results.

Another 4-2A test is Friday against East Webster for a state title berth.

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Posted in Football

Notes from Friday’s quarterfinals

There are five games with seven teams from the Journal’s coverage area remaining in the football playoffs. Four of them host in Friday’s North finals, the winners advancing to the state title games the next week at Ole Miss.

In 1A, Smithville will host Simmons. Smithville’s defense has been stingy. The 13 points Shaw scored in a 14-13 loss to the Noles was the most Smithville has allowed in eight weeks. Simmons scored 75 points Friday on West Lowndes. Something has to give.

In 2A, Baldwyn hosts East Webster. Baldwyn beat Calhoun City 30-16 Friday and allowed only 235 yards to the Wildcats, City’s fewest since Week 1. Baldwyn’s defense has been outstanding and the Bearcats will have a size advantage. EW QB Jack Wilson is dangerous though, another something-has-to-give game. Baldwyn has beaten 4-2A teams Eupora and Calhoun City. East Webster finished second in that division.
Against City, Baldwyn DT Jimmy Tyes had 17 tackles, two TFLs. Sophomore DT Zack Richardson had three TFLs.

In 3A, Aberdeen goes to Charleston. Everyone knew it would come down to these two in the North. They’ve played five playoffs games in eight years. Charleston has won the last three. Jerrick Orr is the X-factor for Aberdeen.

In 5A, Oxford hosts West Point. Oxford has had West Point’s number, winners of four straight in a rivalry that has become very intense. Oxford is aiming at a third straight title game.

In 6A, Starkville hosts Madison Central. MC knocked South Panola out last week, opening the door in 6A. Starkville WR A.J. Brown had one catch Friday against Clinton and Starkville won 45-27. That’s frightening.

Posted in Football

Scores from Friday, Nov. 20

(G) TCPS 58, Starkville Christian 43
(G) Red Bay, Ala. 50, Pontotoc 41
(G) Itawamba AHS 60, Kossuth 31
(G) Myrtle 56, Houlka 55
(G) Corinth 75, Alcorn Central 42
(G) Tishomingo County 59, Saltillo 36
(G) East Union 63, Blue Mountain 47
(G) Belmont 51, Ingomar 45, OT
(G) Pine Grove 57, North Pontotoc 33
(G) New Site 72, Biggersville 25
(G) Amory 80, Okolona 18
(G) Ripley 62, Walnut 49
(G) Booneville 75, Nettleton 40
(G) South Pontotoc 77, Bruce  59
(G) Hatley 65, Thrasher 38
(B) Pine Grove 63, North Pontotoc 53
(B) Thrasher 47, Hatley 43
(B) Blue Mountain 71, East Union 60
(B) Biggersville 63, New Site 60
(B) Nettleton 56, Booneville 53
(B) Myrtle 66, Houlka 46
(B) Okolona 73, Amory 32
(B) TPCS 60 Starkville Christian 56
(B) Bruce 74, South Pontotoc 67
(B) Saltillo 54, Mooreville 48
(B) Ingomar 72, Belmont 56
(B) Corinth 63, Alcorn Central 44
(B) Ripley 59, Walnut 36

Posted in Sports

Super Bowl winner Buckley impressed with McQuary interception record

Terrell Buckely with the Patriots. (AP)

Terrell Buckely with the Patriots. (AP)

Denver McQuary pulls down an interception against Amory. (Deste Lee)

Denver McQuary pulls down an interception against Amory. (Deste Lee)


Houston DB Denver McQuary broke Mississippi’s career interceptions record last week. McQuary picked three passes at Rosa Fort to get to 32, breaking the record of 30 held by four players, including former NFL MVP Steve McNair (Mount Olive) and Super Bowl winner with the Patriots Terrell Buckley (Pascagoula).

I got in touch with Buckely, now a cornerbacks coach at Louisville, who set the record at 30 in 1988.

“Make sure you tell him congratulations,” Buckley said. “Records, that’s what they’re meant to be is broken and that’s impressive. I was very, very excited when I heard the news. Congratulations to him. That’s awesome.”

Buckley was a pick machine in the NFL. He had a pick in 13 consecutive seasons with the Packers, Dolphins, Broncos, Patriots, Jets and Giants. His 50 career picks ranks 35th all time.

McQuary is a Mississippi State baseball commit. Like the double play on the diamond, the interception is one of the game’s most intricate plays.

“Especially for corners, say if you’re in bump and run technique, you have to control the wide receiver, judge his speed, see if he’s running intermediate routes and then finally once you get him under control, to turn, find the ball, judge it, time your step up or whatever you want to do, attack the ball, usually trying catch it at the highest point, snatching it, tucking it because you don’t want to receiver to do it, and maintaining that, I would say yes. That’s a lot of stuff in one play,” Buckley said.

It’s not for the lighthearted either. Good defensive backs will be posted on the opponent’s best receivers. McQuary had a pick-6 that sealed a playoff-opening win at Corinth. Buckley had a pick in the Patriots 2001 AFC title win against Pittsburgh and two weeks later won a Super Bowl ring with New England.

“You better have a short memory,” Buckley said. “It’s tough and if you take a play off, it’s a touchdown. That’s really so much pressure on you. Some other positions, maybe you can take a play off or something or make a mistake. On that island, you can’t do it. Everybody sees. It’s like playing quarterback. Everybody sees it.”

Buckey said a lot of what great corners have is God-given. He tries to teach percentages and angles and work on handles every day, catching at the highest point, hand position, bad balls, etc.

“I think if you’re blessed with it and you practice the right way, it can turn into something beautiful,” Buckley said. “If you’re not blessed with it and you work on it, you can develop some ball skills.”

Posted in Football

The @brandonspeck show: Episode 8


This week Brandon gives an upset pick in Class 4A, tells you about a Chicago restaurant you need to visit and laments on an old soul who thinks Oxford’s PA system is too loud.

*Voted best show on YouTube by several respectable outlets.

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Posted in Sports

Tupelo 5-0 with sweet schedule coming up


Tupelo is 5-0 to start the season after a 59-57 win Thursday over Grenada. I like this team and its balance. Also, I like that Joseph Jones makes it his life goal to catch a body.

Jones and Tre Jenkins entered the night averaging 13 points apiece, E.J. Fuller right behind a 9.8. Jenkins had 15 points in Thursday’s 18 point come-from-behind win and according to David Wheeler, who covered the game for the Journal, had four points in the final 10 seconds.

Tupelo has some great games scheduled next vs. Myrtle, Lausanne, Tenn. in the Lighthouse, at Pontotoc, against Baldwyn in the BIGGersville Christmas Classic and hosting Saltillo.

Posted in Basketball

Scores from Thursday, Nov. 19

(G) Wheeler 59, Mooreville 48
(G) Tupelo 60, Grenada 50
(G) Blue Mountain 60, Thrasher 38
(G) New Site 88, Tishomingo Co. 27
(G) North Pontotoc 42, Lewisburg 37
(B) North Pontotoc 67, Lewisburg 53
(B) Mooreville 71, Wheeler 55
(B) Blue Mountain 72, Thrasher 69
(B) Smithville 62 West Union 51
(B) Tupelo 59  Grenada 57
(B) New Site 61 Tishomingo County 46

(G) Pontotoc 5, Strayhorn 0
(B) Pontotoc 0, DeSoto Central 0

Posted in Sports

Ginormous Lighthouse Classic one week away


Here is my story from today’s Journal on next week’s HUGE Lighthouse Classic, as well as more players to watch and the schedule.

Players to watch


Conner McKay, 6-foot, Sr., G

Coby Agnew 6-foot-1, Jr. F

Felix Hayes, 6-foot-2, Jr. G/F


Devonte Spears, 6-foot, So., G

Bolton (Tenn.)

Jaylen Fisher, 6-foot-2, Sr. G (4-star, UNLV commit, No. 34 ESPN 2016)


Decardo Day, 6-foot-4, Sr., G


Robert Woodard, 6-foot-5, So., SF (5-star, Top player in Mississippi, No. 20 on ESPN 2018, Offers from Alabama and Baylor)


Antares Gwyn, 6-foot-2, Sr., F

Axavius Strickland, 5-foot-10, So., G

Hamilton Heights (Tenn.)

Abdulhakim Ado, 6-foot-10, Sr., C (4-star, Mississippi State signee, No. 2 player in Tennessee)

J.O. Johnson (Ala.)

John Petty, 6-foot-6, Jr. (5-star, No. 1 2017 SG in the country, Offers include Kentucky and Kansas)


Rick Hodum, 6-foot-1, Sr., G


Lexington (Tenn.)

Tariqious Tisdale, 6-foot-6, Sr., F (Ole Miss football DE commit)

Lausanne (Tenn.)

Isaiah Stokes, 6-foot-8, Jr., C (No. 1 player in Tennessee, No. 7 football player (OT) in Tenn., Football offers include Alabama, Auburn and Florida State)

Madison Academy (Ala.)

Josh Langford, 6-foot-6, Sr., SG (5-star, Michigan State signee, No. 1 player in Alabama, No. 17 by ESPN 2016)

Miller Grove (Ga.)

Alterique Gilbert, 6-foot-1, Sr., G (4-star, Connecticut signee, No. 2 player in Georgia, No. 28 ESPN 2016)


Ladarrius Spears, 6-foot-6, So., C

Cameron Smith, 6-foot-4, So., G


Tyson Carter, 6-foot-1, Sr., PG (4-star, Mississippi State signee, Mississippi’s No. 2 player)



Nov. 27

Biggersville vs. Okolona, 10 a.m.

Tupelo vs. Lausanne, Tenn. 11:30

Callaway vs. Cordova, Tenn., 1 p.m.

Starkville vs. J.O. Johnson, Ala. 2:30

Madison Academy, Ala. vs. Columbus, 4

Corinth vs. Bolton, 5:30

Lighthouse Challenge Semifinals

Hamilton Heights, Tenn. vs. Southwest Christian, Ark., 7

Sunrise Christian, Kan., vs. Wesley Christian, Ky., 8:30

Nov. 28

Alcorn Central vs. Jumpertown, 8:30 a.m.

Kossuth vs. Hickory Flat, 10

Baldwyn vs. Lexington, Tenn., 11:30

Bolton, Tenn. vs. Madison Academy, Ala. 1 p.m.

Lighthouse Challenge Consolation, 2:30

Lighthouse Challenge Championship, 4

Corinth vs. Christ Presbyterian, Tenn., 5:30

J.O. Johnson, Ala. vs. Callaway, 7

Columbus vs. Miller Grove, Ga., 8:30



Posted in Basketball

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