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Starkville High School will be celebrating 13 seniors tonight when they play host to Neshoba Central.
Eight boys and five girls will lace up and put on the Yellowjacket uniform for the last time in the Beehive in the regular season.
Brian Xu, Stanley Childs, Tandon Berry, Mike Brand, Steven Brand, Jacobly Mobley, Tory Rice and Gavin Ware haven given three great years to the Jacket Basketball program.
They came in as sophomores and helped SHS win a state championship. Head coach Greg Carter is appreciative of the effort they have given the program.
"They have meant a lot," Carter said. "They came in as sophomores and helped win a state championship. They were able to come back and regroup as juniors and get this team back to the state tournament."
The Yellowjackets are on track to get back there this year, making it three in a row.
In Carter's 10 years he has never had back-to-back-to-back state tournament appearances.
Carter has not been short on leaders this year. Between the eight seniors they have proved that a leader has to lead by example.
"They lead more by example than just talk," Carter said. "They go out on the floor and get it done."
Although, the seniors have experienced a good bit of success, personal growth is something Carter is glad to see from his seniors.
"All of them have grown," Carter said. "They have gotten better. They have developed into their own and have helped make the whole team better."
The game is just another step toward completing their goals for the Jackets. Carter believes that this game does not define the year for his squad.
"It will be good," Carter said of getting a win on senior night. "I don't think our season is based on a win on senior night. I want them to repeat what they did as sophomores as seniors."
For the Lady Jackets they will be saying bye to five seniors.
Brittany Brown, Alexus Bell, Janay Townsel, Shaneka Townsel and Jacquline Fair have played varsity basketball together since 10th grade.
They have played under head coach Kristie Williams all three years.
As juniors the Lady Yellowjackets finished the year 5-13. This year they stand at 11-10.
Williams is glad the girls have experienced some success this season and is happy to see them fight for it.
"They are very special," Williams said of the seniors. "This is the group that has gone through a lot of changes. They have experienced highs and lows. Last year was a bad season. They grew through that and fought hard. They have grown to be fine young ladies."
Although this season has seen more success than last season, the Lady Jackets experienced a few heartbreakers early in the season.
They lost 50-48 at Canton and lost 45-42 against New Albany in the Joe Horne Christmas Classic in Columbus.
Rebounding from those tough losses and pushing forward is the moments that Williams thinks defines her seniors.
"First part of the season we lost some close games," Williams said. "That was their big moment. They were able to regroup and get the team together. Talking to our younger players and keeping the morale high was some of the things they did. That was their defining moment and they reached their maturity."
For senior Brittany Brown, she is excited that she has made it this far.
"It means a lot to see how far I made it," Brown said. "And I stuck with basketball, playing under coach Williams since my 10th grade year so I'm happy."
Getting a win tonight may mean more to the girls' squad. The five seniors have grown close and want to end their run with a victory in their last regular season game in the Beehive.
"It would mean a lot because I don't think we have won a senior night game since I have been here so it would mean a lot," Brown said.
Williams is proud of the seniors and has seen them lead. She believes the good and bad experiences have made them good role models for the younger players.
"They are very patient with the younger players," Williams said. "Having gone through all of the different games they know what to expect. They spend a lot of time with the younger players. It's okay to make a mistake. They always come in and work hard."
The girls game is set to tip at 6 p.m. with the boys game to follow.View more articles in: