Meridian Star

Sports

June 5, 2014

MHS seeks momentum in State Games

MERIDIAN — Meridian High School senior-to-be point guard B.J. Miller recalls it all too vividly. The Wildcats were knotted with Gulfport High School, 57-57, with just a few seconds remaining in the quarterfinals of the 2014 MHSAA state tournament. A loose-ball foul on the Wildcats resulted in two free throws for Gulfport and an eventual 59-57 loss.

“I just remember that we had it, and that one call just swung the whole momentum,” Miller said. “I still had hope that we would score and come away with a win, but I knew when (Gulfport) got that call, it was going to be kind of hard to come away with a win.”

Added senior-to-be Joel Baskins, “We worked too hard to come up short. We just couldn’t get it done.”

Meridian High, the 2013-2014 District 6-5A champions with a 6-0 district record and a 23-7 record overall, have used that last play as added fuel heading into the 2014-2015 season.

“Our upcoming seniors are really driven this year,” Meridian coach Randy Bolden said. “Last year left a bad taste in their mouth, and they’re really eager to get back into the gym.”

Miller and Baskins are the two returning starters for the Wildcats from last year’s squad, but with a bevy of games slated for the summer, opportunities will be plentiful in discovering who will slot into the starting lineup alongside the senior guards.

“The nucleus of our team is back from a scoring standpoint,” said Bolden of Miller and Baskins, who led the team last year with 18 and 17 points per game, respectively. “We have a lot of young guys that we are incorporating, so it’s going to take a little while to implement our style of play, and the way we want to play defense. But they are working hard every day and are eager to learn.”

Additionally, the State Games provide an avenue for Bolden to measure his squad against some of the premiere talent across the state.

“That’s why we drive to Jackson once a week,” he said.  “We get a chance to play some of the top teams in Jackson and to gauge ourselves as the upcoming season comes around.”

The Wildcats have flourished to the start of the summer, winning its first two games over Madison Central High School and Brandon High School, each by double figures.

“I just try to work hard and be a leader with B.J,” Baskins said. “We’re just continuing to work hard (in the offseason) like (Bolden) is asking us to do, and hopefully that will lead to us being successful.”

And the Wildcats are hopeful their initial success this summer will roll over into the regular season.

“We were just one game away from the Big House,” Miller said in reference to the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson. “If we win that game, then I believe we would have won state.

“I’m not settling for anything less than to reach the Big House in my last year.”

Meridian will seek to improve it's mark to 3-0 when it squares off against Pearl High School at 5 p.m. today in Jackson.

“I’m looking for how hard the guys play," Bolden said. "I want to see defensive intensity and effort and things of that nature. But we try to put in a few things offensively so that we can get some continuity going.”

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