Since Christmas, I have covered some of the teams that won or played for a state championships last season.
And I was able to talk to the respective head coaches at length after each contest. This particular effort is on the Biggersville Lions, who played in the championship game of Class 1A a season ago.
One of the more noticeable things about Lions basketball is the impression head coach Cliff Little has made. Wait, I am just talking about his foot-stomp during games (he and Ripley’s Grant Gardner should have a stomp-off).
In all seriousness, Little has certainly reintroduced a winning attitude and an intensity at Biggersville.
“It depends on what day it is as to how we’ve handled being in the championship game last season,” Little said. “There are days for the team I don’t have words for it (how poorly they are reacting).
“But I’m hard on them because I know what potential they have. I put this on my back, too, it’s a team effort.”
For a Class 1A team, the Lions (22-6) have certainly played a competitive schedule in Northeast Mississippi, and who they have lost to are no light-weights: Corinth three times, Baldwyn, and Mooreville from this neck of the woods.
Little certainly wants his Lions to be battle-tested.
“We have played up,” Little said. “And we did this for this time of year.
“I’m different than other people in what I look at as highs for the season. It’s the days they show up for practice and give their best.
“Those days at three o’clock, it’s a beautiful thing. State Champions just don’t show up, they do it day-to-day.”
I was able to see Biggersville for the first time this season in semifinal action of the Division 1-1A Tournament.
I came away thoroughly impressed with Daniel Simmons. In this corner of the state, he can probably get his shot off as easily as anybody.
On the whole, Biggersville can throw numerous athletes on the floor, certainly a plus for an up tempo style of play. And pretty impressive for a 1A school.
Next up for the Lions is a rematch with Blue Mountain in the 1-1A championship, a team they have barely edged twice already this season. And this is perhaps one of the top rivalries going this season in Northeast Mississippi.
Win or lose Friday, Biggersville will play a team from Region 4 Tuesday at home.
Then on Thursday, there is the potential for a matchup against a team from Region 2, a Northeast Mississippi pairing.
“They’re the most talented team I’ve coached,” Little said. “And I’ve coached an NFL first round pick.
“It’s a matter of showing up and doing it, and I feel responsible if we don’t show up and play.”
Lions, listen to your coach.
David Wheeler has been contributing to the high school sports coverage of the Daily Journal since 1985.