BY DALE A. LEONARD
It's the final week of all-star activity for the graduating Class of 2003 and 26 standout performers from the Daily Journal's coverage area.
Today at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the campus of Mississippi College in Clinton, the first of three remaining North versus South All-Star sports contestswill tip off - the annual All-star basketball games sponsored by Mississippi Sports Medicine.
Eleven local athletes and two of the area's top veteran coaches will take part in today's opener. Seven area players will take to the court at the 49th annual boys all-star game. Robert Fox (Calhoun City), Jarvis Acker (Nettleton), Stanley Turner (Ashland), Galvin Davis (Corinth), Lamar Sanders (Hickory Flat), Reggie Gunn (Okolona), and Beau Gibbs (Oxford) are part of the 12-man North roster.
"We have feel we have kids that have height, can handle the ball and can get up and down the court," said North coach Drew Tyler who led Oxford a 26-7 record this past season and a berth in the state tournament. "We have kids that are productive on the defensive and offensive ends. They're not just going from free throw line to free throw line."
Bobby Ford, who guided Okolona to a 28-4 mark and a state tournament appearance, will help Tyler direct the North squad and shares his sentiments.
"It's looks like we have the type team that can play the whole floor," said Ford who got his 300th career at Okolona this past season. "Now, we do have the Turner kid from Ashland who is 6-11 and when he's in there it will be a different style him."
Last year the South squad won 97-94 and picked up its first win in two years. The South also leads the overall series 32-16.
In the 6:30 p.m. opener, four members of the Daily Journal All-Area basketball team hit the court for the North squad. Kossuth's Ashley Jones, Myrtle's Kelly Yates, South Pontotoc's April Reeder and New Albany's Farrah Jones will face a rugged South squad led by Carmen Labat from Bay High. Labat led the Lady Tigers (35-1) to the Class 4A state championship and a No. 1 ranking in the final Associated Press Poll.
The South All-stars routed the North last year, 78-51, but still trial the overall series 20-18.
It is the second straight year for the hoop games to be played on Thursday and in Clinton. After 2001, the annual affair was moved from its typical Friday slot to avoid scheduling conflicts. Prior to the move, the games were held at Frank Branch Coliseum on the campus of Holmes Community College.
All-Star tennis and football are slated for Friday.