Sideline View with Dale McKee
MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) -
First, we send our prayers to all of our fellow Mississippians who were affected by the deadly tornadoes over the weekend.
The Final Four men’s basketball tournament is set in Houston this Saturday with UConn, San Diego State, Florida Atlantic and Miami. The women final four teams will meet up in Dallas on Friday to crown their 2022-23 champion.
The one Cinderella story that has been so exciting to watch in the tournament is Conference USA champion Florida Atlantic. The Owls have four Mississippi connections on their team. Former Ole Miss player and assistant coach Todd Abernethy is in his fourth season with the Owls. Three players with connections to Mississippi are Pensacola native Isaiah Graves, a 6′8″ sophomore forward who played at Northwest Community College. Two former MHSAA products in Alijah Martin and Brandon Weatherspoon have significantly contributed to the team’s success. Weatherspoon scored seven points against Kansas State this past Saturday. The Canton native is a 6′4″ junior guard and a former Holmes CC player. Brandon has two brothers, Quinndary and Nick, who played at Mississippi State. Quinndary presently plays for the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA. Martin of North Pike High School in McComb, the MVP of the C-USA basketball tournament, scored 30 points in the championship game against UAB. Martin was a standout football and basketball player at North Pike where he was named All-State in both sports. He was also named the MVP of the Mississippi/Alabama basketball All-Star game. The 6′2″ sophomore guard tallied 17 points in the Owls’ win over Kansas State in the Elite 8 as the Owls won the East Region in Madison Square Garden. The Owls entered the tournament at 300-1 to win the championship and would be the longest long shot ever to win the tournament since seedings began in 1979. The Owls of Boca Raton, Florida, were the winningest team in Division 1 this season with a 35-3 record. One of the three losses was at Ole Miss back on November 11.
C-USA also has North Texas and UAB in the Final Four of the NIT. Former Louisville High All-American and Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy leads UAB. The Blazers have three former MHSAA products in Ty Brewer and Ledarrius Brewer of Meridian and Javian Davis of Canton. The NIT finals are slated for Thursday night in Las Vegas.
A remarkable run came to an end last Friday night as Ole Miss fell to Louisville, 72-62, in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. The Lady Rebels end the season with a 25-9 overall record and a program best 11 SEC wins.
Three more former MSU Bulldogs were enshrined into the Ron Polk Ring of Honor in Ken Tatum, Tommy Raffo and Mark Gillaspie this past weekend.
The Ole Miss Rebels (0-6, 15-9) were swept by Florida over the weekend. Ole Miss will travel to No. 21 Texas A&M this weekend. Mississippi State (0-6, 14-11) was swept by Vandy and will host No. 11 South Carolina beginning on Thursday night.
Southern Mississippi won their first-ever Sun Belt Conference series by winning two of three over Georgia Southern. The Eagles (3-3, 14-9) will head to Pearl to tangle with Ole Miss on Tuesday before heading to Troy for the weekend.
The MHSAA Class 4-A state champion Yazoo City Indians (30-5) will head to Washington, D.C. on Thursday, April 6, to meet Corner Canyon High School of Utah in the first round of the Second Annual State Champions Invitational. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ at 7 p.m.
The Meridian CC Eagles (20-9) season ended last Monday night in Hutchinson, Kansas, in the NJCAA men’s basketball tournament as they fell to Dodge City, 63-43.
The Jones College Women’s season made their seventh consecutive appearance in the NJCAA Women’s tournament in Lubbock, Texas. The Lady Bobcats (26-4) downed Gulf Coast State of Pensacola, 71-69, in their opening game before falling to Trinity Valley, 84-61.
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