Graduation 2016 marks end of era

My graduation speech to my seniors of 2016
Graduation is upon us again even though it seems like only yesterday that we were just getting the 2015-16 school year started. With this graduation comes the realization that some of my kids that I have followed since junior high will no longer roam the courts and fields of prep sports and that makes me a bit sad.
You see, I got back into the high school sports scene full-time back during the 2010-11 season with newly added responsibilities of covering area prep sports for the News Exchange and this senior class were essentially babes for lack of a better term. They’re my first team to graduate I guess you might say.
I have had the honor and joy of getting to know these athletes, their parents, siblings and even grandparents and I am truly blessed beyond measure on all accounts. However, that makes it harder to let go and watch these young men and women move on to the next step in life.
Some will continue on to play sports at the next level, but most will just say goodbye to coaches and teammates who will forever hold a special place in their hearts and minds.
They will remember all the fun times on the team bus trips, the camaraderie that only can be experienced with others who have the same goals and desires for success of team and love of school, the game and each other.
There will be games and plays that will be forever etched in their minds from their “glory days” that they will reflect upon in the days to come.
I too will remember these athletes, things they said, things they did. I will remember some pretty amazing feats they accomplished on the field of play, some of the games they won and how they won them.
Most of all though, I will just remember each and every person and what a great guy or girl they were on and off the field. I will remember a kind act or a word of encouragement that I experienced or saw someone else experience.
I trust that sports has taught all my “kids” about life because some days you win and some days you lose, but you must never give up, you just keep grinding. You must get up, knock the dust off and go again and again.
And yes, these are my kids because many years ago my family passed through these same situations and circumstances with high school sports and sadly, we one day had to bid all our sports farewell.
Maybe I’m reliving my past through someone else’s child or maybe your child, but one of my main objectives in covering sports is getting to know the players and their families just to let them know that I genuinely care about them, their team, their school and their family.
So it’s a little bittersweet as I watch my former babies walk the aisle to become the graduates of 2016 since I will never again have the opportunity to share the sideline or dugout with them, but I know that they are ready to face tomorrow because they have proven themselves time and again in the face of adversity and opportunity with a winning attitude.
To my Seniors of 2016 I ask you to remember the words of Chuck Swindoll “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
Thanks for your friendship, thanks for your allowing me to follow your exploits on the field of play, but most of all thanks for allowing me to be a small part of your busy life. May God richly bless you all.

High flying Eagles down Blue Mountain

Andrew Childers scored 16 points in the second half for the Eagles on Tuesday. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Andrew Childers scored 16 points in the second half for the Eagles on Tuesday. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


HICKORY FLAT – West Union staged a major second half comeback and won their opening round game in the Division 2-1A Tournament against Blue Mountain 60-52. The Eagles got 16 points from Andrew Childers to help rally the Eagles from a five point deficit at the half.
The fourth quarter saw seven lead changes and West Union took the lead for good at 53-52 with about three minutes remaining.
Childers, Dillon Clayton and Adam Grubbs scored critical points, most of them coming from the free throw line for the Eagles in the closing minute to seal the win.
Hayden Basil and Bobby High provided the offense during the first half as they combined for 15 of the Eagles 23 points.
Basil led the Eagles with his 20 points. Childers had 18 and High finished with 11 points.
West Union advances to face the number one seed, Ashland on Thursday night at 7:45.
Hayden Basil had a big night for the Eagles with his 20 points.

Hayden Basil had a big night for the Eagles with his 20 points.

Lady Hawks rout Falkner in division tournament opener

Amber Cook connects on the three for the Lady Hawks in the first half. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Amber Cook connects on the three for the Lady Hawks in the first half. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


HICKORY FLAT – The Lady Hawks of Myrtle blew open their game with Falkner with a 17-0 run during the first 4:05 of the second period and went on to win big in the Division 2-1A Tournament opener by a score of 74 to 48.
Faulkner tried to close the huge gap after the Lady Hawks went up 35-11, but could get no closer than 15 points down at 39-24 in the third quarter before the Lady Hawks stretched the lead back to a comfortable 56-34 margin after three.
Ivory Montgomery had a game high 24 points to lead the Lady Hawks. Jessica Floyd hit for 18 and Geniesha Montgomery scored 16 points.
Myrtle advances to play number two seed Ashland on Thursday at 4:00.
Ivory Montgomery scores on the layup for Myrtle as teammate Jessica Floyd trails the play.

Ivory Montgomery scores on the layup for Myrtle as teammate Jessica Floyd trails the play.

Hawks fly past Eagles in hoops

DSC_0728Jonathan Scales gathers in the pass in the low post against Andrew Childers. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

MYRTLE – Myrtle jumped out to a 10-0 and cruised home with s 73-55 win over West Union on Thursday.

Myrtle was able to hold the Eagles scoreless until 5:52 and finished the quarter up 24-11. The Hawks maintained their 13-point advantage at the half as they led 37-24.

Jonathan Scales had a big night for the Hawks as he led all scorers and had some key baskets when the Hawks needed them.

Scales finished the game with 15 points, Chris Hill had 14, Tanner Cox scored 13 and Lavon Kiddy chipped in 10 points to lead the Myrtle offense.

Myles Steen hit for 11 points for the Eagles while Hayden Basil and Riley Bogue scored 10 apiece.

 

  Lady Eagles clip Myrtle in division play

  MYRTLE – West Union held off a determined Myrtle team to post a 48-44 win and maintain sole possession of first in Division 2-1A. 

West Union scored first and never trailed in the battle between county rivals. Myrtle tied the score at 2-2 and a Lady Eagle three put the visitors up for good at 5-2.

The Lady Eagles stretched out a 22-10 lead after one quarter, but Myrtle was able to claw their way back and trail by only four at the half. 

Gracen Conlee led the Lady Eagles with 20 and Marley Long scored 12 points.

Jessica Floyd of Myrtle led all scorers with 21 and Ivory Montgomery had 20 points.

West Union improves to 19-10 and 7-2. Myrtle falls to 13-9 and 4-4.

Bulldogs secure playoff bid, Lady Dawgs stay perfect in division

Coach Caryl Vogel has his Bulldogs back in the playoffs in 4A soccer.

Coach Caryl Vogel has his Bulldogs back in the playoffs in 4A soccer.


BY DENNIS CLAYTON
New Albany assured themselves of a spot in 4A soccer playoffs with their 5-2 win over Tishomingo County on Friday.
The Bulldogs were led by Payton Snyder and Joseph Rainey as the duo scored two goals apiece and Eduardo Zaragoza added the remaining goal.
Rainey and Zaragoza each had an assist and Jose Favela also picked up an assist.
The Bulldogs improve to 10-6-3 and 5-2 in Division 1-4A.
(G) New Albany 8, Tishomingo County 0
The Lady Bulldogs kept their perfect run alive with another shutout of a division opponent.
Sanders Goode picked up the hat trick for New Albany with her three goals to lead the scoring.
Becca Childers scored two goals while Carey Beth Doyle, Josi Hill and Mary Day scored one goal apiece.
The Lady Bulldogs had assists from Katie Brooks, Katherine Gonzalez, Maggie Jo Everett and Hill.
New Albany’s record now stands at 13-4-2 and 7-0 in division.
New Albany will host Byhalia on Thursday, Jan. 21 in their final division match. It will also be senior recognition night with the ceremony taking place between games.
Seniors for the Lady Bulldogs are Meghan Van and Katie Davis. Bulldog seniors include Mason Chapin, Eduardo Zaragoza, Jose Favela, Christian Rojas and Seth Male.

Lady Bulldogs stay perfect in division

Sanders Goode works the ball in the box during an earlier Corinth match. file photo.

Sanders Goode works the ball in the box during an earlier Corinth match. file photo.


BY DENNIS CLAYTON
New Albany routed Tishomingo County on Friday, winning 11-1 and keeping their perfect record in Division 1-4A at 4-0. Sanders Goode had a hat trick, scoring three goals to lead the Lady Bulldogs.
“I was pleased with the way we started the game because we had a tough, physical game against Corinth on Tuesday,” New Albany girls coach Bert Anderson said. “With a fairly young team, we could have had a letdown, but they came ready to play. I thought we held possession and passed the ball very well which allowed us to finish very well.”
New Albany scored five goals in the first half and added six more in the second half to coast to the win.
“It was a good game to allow the younger players a chance to have some quality playing time once we got ahead,” Anderson said. “It also allowed some girls like Meghan (Van) and Rachel (Rainey), who have been working hard on defense to move to the forward position and score a couple of goals. That’s always fun for the defensive players and it’s a chance to reward them as well.”
Goode led the scoring with her three goals, Rainey scored two, Cynthia Betancourt also scored two goals. Van, Josi Hill, Katie Brooks and Sarah Kathryn Harris had one goal apiece.