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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

South Panola earns National Championship - David Lighty's 29 points, Jared Sullinger's 16 boards propel Ohio State




COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- There was no complicated reason why David Lighty was so hot.
He was just open.
Lighty scored 13 of No. 2 Ohio State's first 16 points and sat out most of the second half while finishing with 29 points to lead the Buckeyes past UNC Asheville 96-49 on Tuesday night.
"I was knocking them down," he said. "I'm not sure what (defense) they really started in but I was wide open at the beginning of the game. I just started feeling good after I hit the first one."
Lighty, who came in averaging 11.6 points, had 23 at halftime. He left with 10:23 left - one point shy of his career high - and did not return.
"We made some shots early and Dave was rolling," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "Honestly, I think we just took advantage of what they were giving us."
William Buford added 14 points, Deshaun Thomas 13 and Jared Sullinger added nine points and 16 rebounds for the Buckeyes (11-0).
J.D. Primm had 15 points, D.J. Cunningham 13 and Chris Stephenson 11 for the Bulldogs (5-6).
Lighty hadn't hit double figures in his past four games but had that covered in the opening 2:45.
"I honestly felt Lighty was their best player," Asheville coach Ed Biedenbach said. "We elected to try to point him in our zone. What we did was we turned him loose to show that he was one of the best players around."
He almost outscored the Bulldogs in the opening half by himself. He hit 9 of 12 shots from the field including 5 of 7 3-pointers as the Buckeyes led 48-24.
Down 26 points in the opening half, the Bulldogs scored 10 of the first 12 points in the second half to pull to 50-34, but then Lighty made a 3 and the Buckeyes were off and running again.
Asheville fell to 0-12 against Big Ten teams. The Bulldogs have played eight of their 11 games on the road, including an 80-69 loss at No. 24 North Carolina on Nov. 23 and an 87-72 defeat at No. 16 Georgetown on Nov. 27.
Over its past four games, Ohio State has had three different players score at least 29 points. First Sullinger set an Ohio State freshman record when he had 40 points against IUPUI, then two games later Jon Diebler tied the school record with nine 3-pointers in scoring 29. And now Lighty.
"That's how our season's been going so far," Lighty said. "There's not one person you can key on."
Biedenbach said he didn't have much choice but to lay off Lighty.
"It's an old cliche of coaches, which I don't particularly like, but you have to pick your poison," he said. "They're that good. You can't just go out there and play them straight up when you're UNC Asheville and expect to win the game."
The 23-year-old Lighty is the Buckeyes' elder statesman. He came in with the "Thad Five" in the fall of 2006, a recruiting class that included three players (Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook) who would be taken in the first round of the NBA draft after their freshman season.
He missed most of the 2008-9 season with a broken bone in his foot, had his finest season a year ago and then re-broke a bone in the same foot this past spring, requiring more rehab.
The fifth-year senior from Cleveland was making his 99th start. He's played at Ohio State with six first-round draft picks, played in the 2007 NCAA title game and his teams have won 106 games in which he's played - just five off the school mark.
Lighty's previous career high came 364 days earlier on Dec. 22, 2009, against Cleveland State.
"Maybe I'm happy to go home," he said with a wide grin. "I'm not sure what it is. But I'm just happy we got a win and we almost put 40 minutes together."
Against Asheville, he set career highs for field goals made (11), 3-pointers made (seven) and attempted (10) and he matched his most field goals attempted (16).
"They opened in a triangle-and-two (against Sullinger)," Matta said. "(Our guys) found him. He was the open guy. He kind of got rolling there. He did a good job of driving it. Once again, we did a good job of moving the basketball tonight, finding open guys."
Asheville's John Nwannunu suffered an injury in the final minutes and was helped to the dressing room.




South Panola earns National Championship

The biggest challenge for the South Panola High football team in Batesville, Miss., came the past two weekends.
When it wasn’t playing.
South Panola wrapped up its undefeated 15-0 season on Dec. 3 with an overpowering 287 victory over Meridian High in the Mississippi Class 6A state final.
It then had to wait and watch other states – the traditional power states where the national champion usually comes from – finished up their postseasons, wondering if a school there would be impressive enough to knock South Panola off the top spot in the RivalsHigh Top 100 rankings.
“We were nervous,” South Panola coach Lance Pogue said. “We were hoping that finishing our season two weeks ago wouldn’t work against us.”
It didn’t.
South Panola held off its four biggest challengers – Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas, Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle and Rock Hill (S.C.) Northwestern – to win its first national championship. Last year’s national champion, Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep, finished sixth.
“We are very excited,” Pogue said. “It was my goal when I came here in 2007 to take this program to the national level and win a national title. It is very rewarding for the team and the town.”
South Panola is no stranger to success inside its own borders – winning a state title in eight of the past 10 seasons. And it has been on the national scene for a while, finishing No. 28 in 2008 before improving to No. 11 last season.
“Obviously we had high hopes entering this season,” Pogue said. “We brought back 19 starters from last year’s state championship team and a lot of those kids were very talented.”
The team, which took over the top spot on Aug. 30, was never really challenged on the field, outscoring its opponents 687-117.
Its closest game – a 24-13 victory over Olive Branch in the state quarterfinals, marked the only time it didn’t win by three touchdowns or more.
“We beat them pretty good earlier in the season, but we knew the second time around it would be more difficult,” Pogue said. “That is a rivalry game for us and those guys have their pride. Our kids had a hard time getting energized for the game and it nearly cost us.”
Running back Qyen Griffin led the team with 2,670 yards and 37 TDs. He averaged over 9 yards per carry. But he wasn’t the only star.
Nickolas Brassell is the No. 1 ranked college prospect in the state and shined on both sides of the ball as a wide receiver, safety and the team’s primary return man. Playmaker Kendrick Market was the Tigers’ best cornerback and a change-of-pace quarterback who could come in to spark the offense when needed.
And then there’s the defense, which gave up more than 13 points in a game only once all season – and that came against Georgia Class AAAA runner-up Colquitt County with the majority of those points coming after South Panola took a 30-7 lead in the first quarter and pulled its starters.
It is the first national championship on any level won by the state of Mississippi – something that’s not lost on Pogue.
“Sometimes we get overlooked in high school football because we aren’t Florida, Texas or California,” he said. “A lot of that has to do with population and we can’t control that. They have a lot of good teams, but they are going to because of size, but percentage wise we are right there with the best of them.”

Team City State Record Pvs.
1 South Panola Batesville MS 15-0 1
National Champion. Mississippi Class 6A State Champion: The Tigers ascended to the top of the rankings at the end of August and were able to hold off a late charge from several teams from power states to claim the title.
2 St. Thomas Aquinas Ft Lauderdale FL 15-0 3
Florida Class 5A State Champion: The Raiders could give any team in the country fits with its physical defense and balanced offense. It cleaned house in its class.
3 St. Edward Lakewood OH 15-0 2
Ohio Division I State Champion: The Eagles played the most difficult schedule in the nation and navigated it without a blemish.

4 De La Salle Concord CA 14-0 12
California Open Division Champion: The Spartans left no doubt as to which team was the best in California this year, rolling Pac-5 champion Servite in the Open Division Bowl. A win over Nevada champion Bishop Gorman ends the year as the best out-of-state win.
5 Northwestern Rock Hill SC 15-0 4
South Carolina Class 4A Division II State Champions: National Player of the Year favorite Justin Worley led the Trojans to a state title beating Greenwood, 42-10. Worley threw for over 5,000 yards and 64 touchdowns this year, beating five ranked teams in the process.
6 Don Bosco Prep Ramsey NJ 12-0 8
New Jersey Non-Public Group IV State Champion: A season after winning a national championship, Don Bosco will end in the Top 10. The Iron Men downed rival Bergen Catholic, 37-27 for the state crown.
7 Pearland Pearland TX 16-0 37
Texas Class 5A Division I State Champion: Not enough respect was paid to Pearland (which was the No. 44 team in the Texas preseason rankings) until it had to beat Katy and Trinity to win the state title. A fantastic run to the school's first state title.
8 Trinity Euless TX 15-1 5
Trinity fought hard and was on the cusp of a claim for a national title. The team was so good that Pearland only made two mistakes in the Texas 5ADI finals and it almost cost it the game. Trinity was by-far best one-loss team in the country.
9 Butler Matthews NC 16-0 7
North Carolina Class 4AA State Champion: One of the best years in Butler history ended with a state title. With the number and quality of returning juniors and sophomores, there could be two more state titles very soon.
10 Bingham South Jordan UT 13-0 14
Utah Class 5A State Champion: The Miners rolled through Utah this season. With a team loaded with Division I talent, this Bingham squad could have played with any team in any state.
11 Wheaton Warrenville South Wheaton IL 14-0 10
Illinois Class 7A State Champion: The Tigers finish the year as the top team in Illinois, defeating Lake Zurich in the title game.
12 Daphne Daphne AL 15-0 16
Alabama Class 6A State Champion: Under the radar for much of the season, Daphne made an impressive run through the state tournament and ended with a 7-6 win over Hoover.
13 Hamilton Chandler AZ 15-0 15
Arizona Class 5A Division I State Champion: The Huskies began and ended the season as the top team in Arizona.
14 Miami Central Miami FL 15-1 21
Florida Class 6A State Champion: The Rockets used an amazing championship performance by Devonta Freeman to win the first state title in Central history. The team ends the year No. 2 in Florida.
15 Hoover Hoover AL 14-1 18
Hoover played a fantastic schedule and proved to be one of the elite programs in the nation. A solid season ended with a 7-6 loss in the Alabama Class 6A state finals.
16 Mullen Denver CO 14-0 19
Colorado Class 5A State Champion: The Mustangs had one of the best defenses in the nation and it flexed its muscles all year, only allowing 89 total points against it.
17 Acadiana Lafayette LA 10-5* 22
Louisiana Class 5A State Champion: The Wreckin' Rams were one of the hottest teams in the country come December. It had to forfeit four games so the 10-5 record is decieving; it should be 13-1.
18 Phoebus Hampton VA 15-0 20
Virginia Division V State Champion: The Phantoms used a dominating defense to take home another state title. The team only allowed 80 points all season.
19 Coppell Coppell TX 13-1 23
The Cowboys had one of the best teams in the country and nearly knocked off Trinity in what may be one of the best high school football games of all time.
20 West Monroe West Monroe LA 14-1 24
The Rebels came up just short against Acadiana in the state final, losing 21-14. The season was still a good one and the team proved to be a Top 25 team.
21 Dr. Phillips Orlando FL 14-1 6
One of the most talented teams in Florida made it to the state finals before falling to Miami Central. It was still a Top 25 season for the Panthers.
22 Meridian Meridian MS 14-1 34
One of the better defenses in the country was worn down by one of the best teams in the country. Meridian lost to South Panola in the Mississippi Class 6A state final.
23 Jefferson Tampa FL 14-0 35
Florida Class 3A State Champion: The Dragons high-flying pass offense set plenty of Florida state records on its way to the title and a Top 25 national ranking.
24 Katy Katy TX 13-1 45
Katy was oh-so-close in its loss to Pearland in the Region 3 final. With Pearland winning the state title, it boosts the stock of Katy back into the Top 25 nationally.
25 Harrison Farmington Hills MI 13-0 26
Michigan Division 2 State Champion: Harrison was a latecomer onto the scene but made a solid run through the playoffs, downing Lowell in the state final, 38-28. And to settle any debate, it has a win over the Division I state winner, Lake Orion, on its resume as well.

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