Two more from Tupelo basketball make decisions

Tate Clayton and Jaylon Copeland made it official with their college of choice Friday morning. Clayton will be a preferred walk-on under Ben Howland at Mississippi State University in Starkville while Copeland will follow teammate Kylan Hamilton to Meridian Community College.

During his senior season, Clayton notched 7.2 PPG, 3.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and shot 43% from the three point line. Copeland saw action in every game as a junior and senior, and averaged almost ten PPG and five rebounds as a senior. He also made the Daily Journal All-Area 3rd Team in 2017.

As starters, both helped head coach Jeff Norwood and the Golden Wave basketball reach back-to-back trips to Jackson for the first time since the late 1990s.

#themblankets 

Matthews, Sandroni make their baseball choices

Stephen Matthews and Ray Sandroni have been playing baseball since they could pick up a bat and ball. For the first time in 13 years this fall, they will be playing on different teams.

On Thursday, both signed with baseball programs on the college level. Matthews inked with Jones County Junior College while Sandroni decided to be a preferred walk-on at Itawamba Community College.

Matthews, a 5’9 175 lb shortstop, is currently batting .296 for the Tupelo Golden Wave. He has 14 RBIs, 16 hits, and one homerun in 19 games this season. Sandroni, a 5’8 180 lb catcher, is hitting .324 with 15 RBIs, 23 hits, and one homer. Both starters have helped Tupelo to a fifth-straight Division 2-6A title and the 24th crown in 27 years.

Both JCJC (Southern Division) and ICC (Northern Division) compete in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior College conference.

#themblankets 

Ratliff goes with Blue Mountain

The small city of Blue Mountain will know the name “Nick Ratliff” very, very soon.

The two-sport Tupelo Golden Wave athlete made it official with Blue Mountain College men’s basketball Wednesday morning.

Ratliff, a 6’2″ 180 lb forward, finished the 2016-2017 season averaging nine points, seven rebounds, and 2.4 assists a game. As a junior, he averaged a similar 5.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists. He and the Golden Wave made back-to-back trips to Jackson in 2016 (6A semifinals) and 2017 (6A quarterfinals). Tupelo (26-5) went undefeated in Division 2-6A during the regular season and was crowned tournament champions in February. Ratliff also plays baseball for head coach Justin Reed.

Blue Mountain Toppers, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics member, is in the Southern State Athletic Conference. Last season, they finished 13-14 overall and 9-11 in the SSAC.

#themblankets 

Hamilton chooses Meridian Community College basketball

Kylan Hamilton saw valuable minutes for Golden Wave basketball as a junior last season. Some of those best minutes were in the MHSAA 6A Quarterfinals and Semifinals at Memorial Coliseum in Jackson. It was those crucial 30+ minutes of playoff basketball when he decided he wanted to play on the next level.

On Wednesday, Hamilton, a 6’3″ 185 lb. shooting guard, made it official with Meridian Community College men’s basketball.

During his junior season, Hamilton played in all 33 games, had double-digit points in seven contests, and averaged 5.2 PPG and 1.8 RPG. This year, he’s almost tripled his PPG, APG, RPG, and SPG averages, and has guided this year’s Golden Wave team to a Division 2-6A championship. For the second-straight season, Tupelo (26-4) will face Meridian (27-2) in Satuday’s 6A Quarterfinals at Jackson State University at noon.

#themblankets 

Two sign with Itawamba Community College athletics

On Friday, two Tupelo High School student-athletes decided to make it official by continuing their education and taking their athletic talents at Itawamba Community College next Fall.

Merrie Kate Grayson and LaBryant Siddell signed on the dotted line with ICC women’s soccer and men’s baseball.

Grayson, a back-up goalkeeper for Coach Hannah Kimbrough at THS, received the Golden Wave Spirit Award for 2016-2017. She also helped guide Lady Wave soccer to a 12-2-1 overall record during her senior campaign.

Siddell, a right-handed outfielder for Tupelo baseball, finished his junior season with fantastic numbers. In 108 plate-appearances, Siddell had 33 hits, one home run, 24 RBIs, and a batting average of .384. As a left-fielder, he had only one error and a staggering fielding percentage of .933. Tupelo baseball finished 2016 with a record of 20-11 and a division title under Coach Justin Reed. Siddell also saw extensive action at running back on the football gridiron under Coach Trent Hammond his junior and senior seasons.

#themblankets

Four from Tupelo football ink on National Signing Day

Head coach Trent Hammond continued tradition as Golden Wave Football sends four athletes on to the next level.

Tuesday morning the four seniors made it official on National Signing Day at THS. RB/WR Donte Freeman (Itawamba Community College), DB Chris Shannon (Northwest Community College), WR Austin Watkins (Itawamba Community College), and LB Greg Williams (Northwest Community College) signed papers to their respective colleges

Donte Freeman, a 5’6″, 160 lb. running back/wide receiver, finished 2016 with 44 carries, 217 rushing yards, and five rushing TDs. He also had 33 receptions, 369 receiving yards, and four TDs.

Chris Shannon, a 6’1″, 180 lb. defensive back, capped his senior season with 24 solo tackles, assisted on eight, pass-defended ten balls, grabbed three interceptions, and blocked two FGs. In 2015, he saw action at wide receiver, and had 14 catches for 297 yards and three TDs. He also rushed 25 times for 210 yards his junior year. Shannon runs a 4.4 40-yard dash.

Austin Watkins, a 5’9″, 164 lb. wide receiver, had 17 carries, 95 rushing yards, and two TDs in 2016. Watkins also caught 31 balls, totaled 419 receiving yards, and had three TDs.

Greg Williams, a 6’1″, 190 lb. linebacker, racked up 53 solo tackles, 79 total tackles, five tackles for loss, picked up one interception, broke up five passes, recovered one fumble, and forced one fumble on the defensive line during his senior campaign.

With today’s signings, Hammond has had 25 football players sign to play on the next level since arriving at THS in 2013.

#themblankets 

Sherer signs with East Tennessee State basketball

Tupelo guard Alayjah Sherer has had a pretty good week. She was named to the 2016-2017 Clarion-Ledger Girls Dandy Dozen last Friday, notched a game-high 37 points in a home win over 6A rival DeSoto Central Tuesday night, and officially signed with a D-I basketball program this morning.

The 5′ 10″, 174 lb. guard inked with East Tennessee State women’s basketball Wednesday. As a junior, she saw action in all 30 games for the Lady Wave and averaged 20.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.8 steals a game

“Alayjah has the ability to take over games,” says Tupelo head coach Matt Justice. “She’s one of the toughest players to guard because of her size, and I still believe we have yet to see her best work.”

East Tennessee State University Buccaneers compete in the Southern Conference and finished the 2015-2016 with 16 wins and 14 losses. ETSU is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and is the fourth largest college in the state.

#themblankets

Bridges goes with Meridian Community College

Jackson Bridges knew exactly what he wanted to do with his baseball future as early as the spring. It was only a matter of time before Bridges officially put it in ink.

Bridges, a 6′ 1″ 194 lb. RHP with a 2.56 ERA, signed his LOI with Meridian Community College baseball Tuesday morning. In 2015-2016, he saw action in 12 games, pitched 60 innings, walked 15, struck out 51, and had a record of 5-3 with one save.

“The experience Coach (Justin) Reed has given me has helped prepare me to pitch consistently at the next level,” said the 2016 1st Team All-Division pitcher.

The Golden Wave standout helped Tupelo (20-11) go 9-0 in division as well as a trip to the 6A MHSAA Quarterfinals last season.

Meridian CC, who competes in the MACJC, finished 39-12 and rose as high as seventh in the nation last spring.

“Meridian has a long history of winning,” said Bridges, “I look forward to being a big part of it.”

#themblankets 

Hildenbrand goes with Delta State tennis

Andrew Hildenbrand didn’t know what was in store for his tennis future after breaking his right wrist in February. After getting a surgical plate from Dr. Bryan Fagan and an intense rehab routine by Mark Bresee, Andrew won the Mississippi High School Athletic Association’s 6A individual boy’s singles championship in Jackson last week.

On Monday, Hildenbrand signed with Delta State University men’s tennis in Cleveland, Mississippi.

“THS molded me into a team player,” said Andrew. “Leadership and maturity are big aspects I will take with me to DSU.”

Hildenbrand is no stranger to MHSAA tennis accolades. In 2014, he won the 6A individual boy’s doubles championship, and was runner-up in 2015 and 2013.

“DSU was always an option when deciding on my future. After breaking my wrist and talking to the DSU coach, I found Cleveland to be the perfect tennis location for me.”

Delta State University, an NCAA Div. II college, competes in the Gulf South Conference.

#themblankets 

 

Hoover goes with Kansas Christian College

Jaron Hoover had an idea of his basketball future a few weeks ago. All he needed was the letter of intent. He received that document earlier this week.

Hoover signed with Kansas Christian College men’s basketball Thursday. The 5’3″, 185 lb guard saw important action in all 33 games for the Golden Wave this season. He said he felt a lot of weight was lifted off his shoulders when he made it official.

“KCC felt like the best fit for me,” said Hoover. “I like their coaching style. It reminds me a lot of Coach (Jeff) Norwood’s philosophy at THS.”

Tupelo finished 2015-2016 with a record of 27-6, and a trip to the 6A Semifinals in Jackson. Three other Class of 2016 members have already signed to play on the next level: Tre Jenkins, Joseph Jones, and EJ Fuller (all Itawamba Community College).

Kansas Christian College in Overland Park, KS, formerly known as Kansas City College and Bible School, will participate in intercollegiate athletics next season for the first time since 2005. The private institution is set to compete as part of the Association of Christian College Athletics (ACCA) and face teams from the NCCAA, NAIA, and NCAA Div. II.

#themblankets