Chris Higginbottom (copy)

Belmont coach Chris Higginbottom and his Lady Cardinals will fall down into Class 2A for the 2021-23 school years.

Six area schools will play ball in a new classification for the next two years. 

On Thursday, the MHSAA released its new realignments for the 2021-23 school years (https://www.misshsaa.com/2020/10/29/2021-23-mhsaa-classifications/), with two schools jumping into Class 2A for the first time.

Both Pine Grove and Myrtle will move up from 1A to 2A. They won't be alone in that journey, as former longtime 2A member Baldwyn will rejoin the ranks after a two-year stint in 1A.

The depth of 2A got stronger as Belmont dropped down from 3A for the first time since the 2008-09 school year, but Mantachie will take the Cardinals' place in 3A, a classification it competed in two different times, the latest from 2017-2019.

Houston jumps back up to 4A, where it participated for eight years (2009-17) before moving back to 3A over the last four years. 

The new shuffled classes sets up an intriguing lineup, particularly in 2A girls basketball. 

The four-time defending 1A state champion Pine Grove squad brings last year's 1A runner-up Baldwyn and a perennial basketball power, Belmont, into the fold with teams like 2A state champs Calhoun City, and two quarterfinalists in New Site and Walnut.

Houston ended its last stint in 4A with six-straight playoff appearances in baseball, including a state championship in 2016.

Over the last three years in 3A, the Hilltoppers saw their season come to an end to North Pontotoc in the third round in back-to-back years and their 2020 season cut short due to COVID-19. 

The Vikings made the jump to 4A last go-round, and now Houston will contend again with the familiar foe, along with other 4A powers like Pontotoc, Ripley and Corinth.

dillon.barnes@journalinc.com

Twitter: @DillonBarnesDJ

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