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MCC soccer championship top story in 2000

By By Robbie Robertson/The Meridian Star
Jan. 1, 2001
From record-setters to championships, it was quite a year in sports for The Meridian Star.
Here is a review of the top sports stories from the Meridian Star, as selected by the staff:
1. Meridian Community College soccer: The Meridian Community College soccer team capped off an incredible season as the Eagles won the NJCAA Division I National Championship in Tyler, Texas with a 2-0 win over Bryant &Stratton (N.Y.).
Coach Steve Clements guided the Eagles to a 24-1 record and a No. 1 ranking in his seventh season with the program. Clements is the program's only coach.
2. Monique Horner: In her senior year at Southeast Lauderdale, Monique Horner became the state's all-time leading scorer, surpassing Hollandale-Simmon's Tarsha Bethley, with 3, 706 points. She broke the record with a 51-point effort against Clarkdale in the Lauderdale County Tournament.
Then the Horner saga continued when she learned that she had a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee. But Horner opted not to have season-ending surgery and has continued to build on her state-leading total, surpassing the 4,000-point mark against Cherokee, N.C. Friday night in the Choctaw Central Tournament.
3. Clarkdale football: With one of the state's longest losing streaks on the line, the Clarkdale Bulldogs started the 2000 football season in search of a victory.
They found it against West Lincoln and snapped a 39-game losing streak, setting off a wild celebration which ended in the goalposts being torn down.
4. Winston Academy football: One of the state's most impressive football streaks continued when Winston Academy won its fourth straight state championship.
Led by senior quarterback Taylor McNeel, the Patriots won their third straight Class AA title. But it didn't come easy as the Patriots ended the regular season on a three-game losing streak and even finished second in their division.
5. Meridian Community College baseball: In one of the most surprising announcements of the year, MCC baseball coach Scott Berry announced he was leaving the Eagles to join former boss Corky Palmer at Southern Miss.
The Eagles were just coming off another trip to Grand Junction, Col., and the Junior College World Series when Berry made the announcement.
6. Jerry Boatner: The legendary West Lauderdale coach may have had his best year ever in the coaching ranks this past year.
It started out as Boatner won his 700th baseball game against Heidelberg. He continued on as the Knights won another state championship, in a sweep of Caledonia.
Then Boatner guided the West Lauderdale softball team to the Class 3A state championship, beating rival Newton County in the championship game.
7. Nobody in Jackson: With a controversial two-point conversion, Magee eliminated Newton County from the Class 3A playoffs and sent the last team from The Meridian Star coverage area home for the holidays.
It was a stark contrast from 1999 when four local teams made it to Jackson.
It was also a disappointing end to the football season for a senior-laden Meridian High team. Despite going 9-2 in the regular season and beating 5-3A champion Brandon at home, the Wildcats lost in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs at Gulfport.
But perhaps the biggest play of the season came at Newton County. In the Class 3A South State Championship game, the Cougars led most of the way before giving up a late to score to eventual champion Magee. Then, Magee scored on a controversial two-point play when a replay showed the Magee player intentionally flipped the ball in the end zone, where an offensive lineman recovered for the win.
8. Scott County basketball: The Scott County Lady Rebels capped off the prep basketball season by capturing the Class 1A state championship for coach Chad Harrison.
But the county's spot among the elite in the state was solidified when Forest gave the state's No. 1 team, Yazoo County, it's closest game of the season. Then Forest coach Gina Skelton left the Lady Bearcat program to take over at Wayne County.
9. Meridian Community College Women's Basketball: It was a whirlwind year for Meridian Community College women's basketball.
The Lady Eagles ended the season by falling in the NJCAA National Tournament for a second straight season.
Then coach Sandy Pugh resigned to take the head coaching job at Southern University.
MCC president Scott Elliot then hired Hilary Allen to take over the Lady Eagles.
10. Bobby Hall and Wayne County football: In a surprise move, legendary Mississippi high school football coach Bobby Hall took over the Wayne County football program.
Since being consolidated, Wayne County had only one winning season and one playoff appearance, that under another coaching legend, Bubba Davis.
Assuring a winning season, Hall delivered with a 10-3 season that included a win over Meridian a second-place finish in Region 3-5A.
In the playoffs, the War Eagles had eventual champion Moss Point on the ropes before falling on the road.
Robbie Robertson is sports editor for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rrobertson@meridianstar.com.

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