Shane Murphree is comfortable with rebuilding projects. He’ll have a pair of them at Thrasher.

Murphree, 41, was tabbed as the next head coach for both the girls and boys basketball programs at Thrasher on July 8.

He was last a head coach of South Pontotoc’s boys for six years before resigning in 2020 and stepping away from the game for a year.

“I’m really excited about the challenge. I missed it while I was away from it,” Murphree said.

When he took over South Pontotoc boys in 2014, the Cougars were struggling to win games. His team was 12-47 in his first two years before going 56-56 over the next four years, including a 21-10 mark in the 2017-18 season.

South made three playoff appearances in Class 3A in Murphree’s six years.

In the last two seasons, both the Rebels and Lady Rebels were a combined 2-66 over that stretch.

“I kind of know what it’s like and know the steps you have to take,” said Murphree. “... First thing is you’ve got to make them believe that they can win because until that happens, it’s going to continue to be a struggle.”

State’s best

Six area athletes were honored as the state’s best when the USA Today High School Sports Awards were presented last week.

Tupelo’s Walker Wise was named top boys golfer. He led the Golden Wave to a 19-stroke win at the Class 6A state championships while winning medalist honors.

New Albany’s Caroline King was named the best girls golfer. She was the top finisher at the Class II state tournament.

Houston’s Paige Kilgore won the softball award, adding to her Gatorade Player of the Year Award. Kilgore had a 1.21 ERA with 247 strikeouts, plus she batted .453.

Other local winners were East Union’s Devin Coghlan (boys bowling), Okolona’s Jayden Lowe (boys powerlifting) and South Pontotoc’s Alisha McKinney (girls powerlifting).

Preseason looms

Formal preseason drills begin Monday for cross country, swimming and volleyball teams.

Those are the first three sports to get the 2021-22 sports year started. Volleyball will start its regular season on Aug. 6, while cross country and swimming get going Aug. 16.

Football preseason practices begin Aug. 9, with most teams kicking off the season the weekend of Aug. 26-27.

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