Philadelphia’s Martea’ Burkes tries to take the ball away from a Newton County player last week.
Philadelphia’s Martea’ Burkes tries to take the ball away from a Newton County player last week.
All 10 high school basketball teams in the Neshoba Democrat area are off to good starts.

But the games are about to become harder and more important with the teams entering the January district game grind. Coaches will tell you all games are important but district games count toward the seeding of the district tournaments in February.

The Philadelphia and Union teams are all in an even race in Region 4-2A. Both Newton High School teams were undefeated before losing to Choctaw Central in the East Central shootout. Lake and Scott Central are also competitive this year.

Both Choctaw Central teams are off to good starts. The Lady Warriors are seeking their third Class 3A state championship in a row. The Warrior teams are competing in Region 5-3A along with Forest, Morton, Southeast Lauderdale, Kemper County and Winona.

Both Neshoba Central teams are playing well and will be ready to compete in their region against Holmes Central, Cleveland Central and Canton High School.

Leake Academy is competing in District 2AAA along with Canton, Starkville, Heritage and Winston academies. The Lady Rebels are looking for another state championship with their eye on making it to the finals of the Overall State Tournament again.

Here’s a look at the local teams and their remaining schedules.



Choctaw Central

The Choctaw Central Lady Warriors have not played since defeating previously undefeated Newton High School the Friday before Christmas. Coach Bill Smith said the 12-1 Lady Warriors were to return to the practice court Monday. Their first action will be at Morton on Thursday.

“Time off for the holidays is part of it,” Smith said. “We will do a lot of running this week to get back in playing shape. We played well the last couple of games before Christmas and picked up a pair of special wins (over Pearl and Newton). We need it to carry over.”



As the Lady Warriors prepare for the playoffs in February, they will be tested in three upcoming classic games.

They will play undefeated Lafayette in the Pontotoc tournament Jan. 5; New Site in the Choctaw County Shootout Jan. 19, and Olive Branch in the Booneville shootout Jan. 26.

The Choctaw Central boys returned to action Thursday and took a 68-44 win over Raymond in the St. Andrews Classic. The Warriors stand at 12-1. On the Friday before Christmas, the Warriors defeated Newton High School 48-42.

Remaining Games: (*- Region 5-3A game) Jan. 3 – at Morton *; Jan. 5 – girls in Pontotoc tournament;  Jan. 7 – Winona *;  Jan. 8 – Philadelphia;  Jan. 11 – at Leake Central; Jan. 15 – Kemper County *; Jan. 17 – at SE Lauderdale *; Jan. 19 – both teams in the Choctaw County shootout; Jan. 22 – Forest *; Jan. 24 – at Philadelphia; Jan. 26 – girls in Booneville tournament; Jan. 29 – Morton; Feb. 1 at Kemper County *; Feb. 4 – at Winona; Feb. 5 – SE Lauderdale; Feb. 11-15 – Region 5-3A tournament at SE Lauderdale.



Neshoba Central

Both Neshoba Central teams picked up victories on the Saturday before Christmas in the East Central Community College shootout.

The Neshoba Central Lady Rockets took a 39-31 win over Vicksburg and improved to 10-3 on the season.

The Neshoba Central boys improved to 13-1 with 78-58 win over Stringer.

Games with Meridian were cancelled.

Remaining Games: (* - region game) Jan. 3 – SE Lauderdale; Jan. 4 – Canton; Jan. 8 – at Holmes County Central *; Jan 11 – at Cleveland Central; Jan. 15 – at Canton *; Jan. 19 – at Wayne County; Jan. 29 – Holmes Central *; Feb. 1 – at SE Lauderdale; Feb. 5 – Cleveland Central *; Feb. 8 – Columbus High; Feb. 11-15 – region tournament at Cleveland Central.



Philadelphia

The Clinton Arrows swept Philadelphia on the Friday before Christmas.

The Lady Tornadoes dropped a 66-49 decision to the Lady Arrows. Andrika Carter led with 18 points while Tyesha Cole scored 14. The Lady Tornadoes dropped to 9-4 on the season.

The Philadelphia boys lost 60-46 to Clinton. The Tornadoes dropped to 9-3 on the season.

Both teams were to play two games in the East Webster tournament last Friday and Saturday. The Tornadoes have a couple of tough games before starting Region 4-2A play. They will host Kemper County on January 4, and then visit Choctaw Central on January 8.

They open region play at home January 11 against Newton High School.

Remaining Games: Jan. 4 – Kemper County; Jan. 8 -  at Choctaw Central; Jan. 11 – Newton High *; Jan. 12 – vs. McAdams in Philadelphia shootout; Jan. 15 – at Scott Central *; Jan. 18 – at Lake *; Jan. 19 – Bay Springs tournament; Jan. 22 - at Newton High *; Jan. 24 – Choctaw Central; Jan. 29 – Union *; Feb. 1 – Scott Central *; Feb. 5 – at Union *; Feb. 8 – Lake *; Feb. 15 – Region 4-2A tournament at Lake High School.



Union

The Union Yellowjackets will be off until January 4 when they host Morton. On the next nightm they compete in the Newton County shootout against Bogue Chitto.

The Union girls closed out their pre-Christmas schedule with a 53-47 win over West Lauderdale. The Lady Yellowjackets now stand at 11-6.

“I thought we had a lot of young talent, if we grew up, we compete,” said Coach Matt Wilbanks. “We stepped up. We are playing good ball and with a lot of confidence. We are on a seven-game win streak. I am proud of them.”

The Union boys are off to a 13-2 start. The Yellowjackets defeated West Lauderdale 50-43.

Remaining Games: Jan. 4 – Morton; Jan. 5 – vs. Bogue Chitto in Newton High shootout; Jan. 8 – Scott Central *; Jan. 15 – at Lake *; Jan. 18 – at Newton High *; Jan. 22 – at Scott Central *; Jan. 25 – Lake *; Jan. 29 – at Philadelphia *; Feb. 5 – Philadelphia *; Feb. 8 – Newton High *; Feb. 15 – Region 4-2A tournament at Lake High School.



Leake Academy

The Leake Academy teams swept Indianola Academy last Thursday in the Kirk Academy tournament.

The Lady Rebels defeated Indianola 57-20 to improve to 17-1. The Rebels won their game 49-46 to improve to 11-2. Leake Academy was to play Washington School on Friday and Lewisburg on Saturday.

“We were a little sluggish but that was part of it after being off for the holidays,” Rebels Coach Phil Shepard said. “We are playing our way back into shape.”

Remaining Games: (* - District 2-AAA game)  Jan. 4 - at Heritage *; Jan. 8 – Winston *; Jan. 11 – Columbia; Jan. 12 – at Simpson; Jan. 15 – Starkville Academy *; Jan. 18 – Canton *; Jan. 19 – at East Rankin; Jan. 22 – Heritage *; Jan. 25 – at Winston *; Jan. 29 – at Pillow Academy; Feb. 1 – Clinton Christian; Feb. 5-9 – District 2AAA tournament at Leake Academy.