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By BEN WAIT
The Starkville High School basketball teams will travel to Columbus this weekend to play in the 15th Annual Joe Horne Columbus Christmas Classic.
Greg Carterâ€™s boys team is one of the top-ranked teams in the state and have yet to lose this season. Being one of the best teams in the state has not been the main focus of the Yellowjackets.
â€śWe really donâ€™t talk about it,â€ť Carter said. Â â€śWe play one game at a time and keep our focus on our upcoming opponent. Â If we get ahead of ourselves that is when we could lose our focus. Â I really lose count with our record.â€ť
They will play Jackson Provine Friday night and Ridgeway (Memphis, Tenn.) Saturday night. Â This tournament will be a challenge for the Jackets. Provine has historically been a good basketball school and will be looking to spoil the Jackets perfect season.
â€śI havenâ€™t seen them play,â€ť Carter said of Provine. Â â€śI expect them to be good. Â They are always a consistent team and have been really good in the past.â€ť
This tournament will give Mississippi State commitment Gavin Ware good exposure. Â Ridgeway is ranked 21st by MaxPreps.com.
â€śI know he will be challenged this weekend,â€ť Carter said. Â â€śHe has played really well all season and I expect it to be no different in this tournament.â€ť
Ware is not the only threat for the Jackets. Jacolby Mobley gives Starkville an outside threat. Â Teams have found it hard to stop just one of them, and stopping both can be a nightmare.
Mobley will be playing one of his past AAU teammates, Roger Woods, of Provine. Woods is a 6-5 forward and averaged 16 points and nine rebounds a year ago.
â€śMobley is going to play with a lot of pride this weekend," said Carter. "Woods was
his teammate on an AAU team so they go way back. Â He is excited to get on the court.â€ť
The girls team will square off against Lawrence County on Friday and New Albany on Saturday.
Lawrence County is the defending 4A defending state champions and enter with a 6-4 mark. Â Head coach Kristie Williams hopes the play of Lawrence County will help challenge her players.
â€śWe are looking to minimize our mental errors this weekend,â€ť Williams said. â€śI am hoping that us playing a worth opponent, as if we haven't already, will help us step up the challenge and play well.â€ť
New Albany has a Dandy Dozen pick in Jazmine Spears and are coached by former Houston Rocket John Stroud.
â€śJazmine is a great athlete who will provide a huge challenge for us,â€ť Williams said. Â â€śI want my team to grow from this experience.â€ť
The Lady Jackets are coming off a one-point loss to Canton. Â Practice has shown that the energy has not dropped off.
â€śThat was a tough loss, but the energy hasnâ€™t gone down in practice,â€ť Williams said. Â â€śI am trying to build up the enthusiasm of my players and preaching that they need to give it their best.â€ť