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Basketball Brotherhood Stop #3: Blue Mountain, Mississippi

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on December 10, 2007

Doc’s Note: This is the latest in a series of columns on sports at Crichton. These columns will appear regularly until the end of the school year.

Three years ago, when I wrote columns as a teenager for the weekly North Shelby Times in Frayser, I wrote a nice piece on the trips that I made as a child to rural northern Mississippi with my dad to visit the land where my ancestors made home over 150 years ago.

Places like Watson, Matthews Corner, and Marianna, which had a great grocery store where you could buy Double Cola and ice cream for just a dollar well into the mid-90’s, had special meaning for my dad as well as myself.

Three years later on Thursday night, the “Basketball Brotherhood” of Crichton made its first trip to Blue Mountain College, a team that fell victim to the Comets to open the Doc Hancock era 141-77 at Streets Ministries Arena on November 17th.

From the research I did one night between doing papers for class, the town sat smack dab in the middle of Tippah County, Mississippi, had a population of 672, and was home to a school that was formerly an all-girl’s school until 2005.

Not to mention that the population was 87 percent female.

“What’s the population of this town?” Sly Watkins asked as we unloaded everything off the bus.

“672,” I replied, “and 87 percent female.”

Unlike Fisk’s gym, which had creaky bleachers and no concession stands whatsoever, Blue Mountain’s was more or less a throwback to the movie “Hoosiers” where the whole town as well as the town drunk, who we met during pregame, was in attendance.

“Northside’s gym is bigger than this,” Marcus Butler said to me as we watched Christian Brothers play the Lady Toppers as he referred to his alma mater Jackson Northside High School’s gym.

Ten minutes later, the town drunk came back to where we were all sitting at to give us some pointers on not trying to pull a Belichick by running up the score against the Toppers.

Given the fact that I heard the city of Blue Mountain was predominantly female, I then decided to ask the drunk about that fact.

“Is it true,” I asked the town drunk, who smelled of Listerine and Jack Daniel’s, “that the town is 87 percent female?”

“That is very true,” he said.

Since Blue Mountain’s gym didn’t have the camera area like Philander Smith and Fisk, I was relegated to sit in the last section of the bleachers and shoot the game with hundreds of screaming Topper fans around me.

One of the things that Crichton doesn’t have during halftime is some gimmick as an incentive to thank those students who took time out of their busy schedule to come support the team and in the case of Blue Mountain, the gimmick for the game was a chance to win a king-sized Snickers candy bar.

That is, if you hit a free throw.

“Who wants to try their luck?” asked the P.A. announcer.

Given the fact that I was a huge fan of Snickers candy bars, I decided, with the blessing of Coach Sanders, to try my hand at hitting one free throw to win a candy bar and although from my standpoint the form was fine, it rimmed in and out of the basket and crushed my dreams of eating a king-size Snickers bar during the second half.

On my way back to put the balls up for the contest and checking on video equipment, an attractive girl caught my attention.

“Hi,” I said, “I’m the student manager for Crichton College. I had noticed you while I was shooting the game, but I wanted to keep my focus on the game, not you.”

“Aww,” she said.

“You have very pretty eyes,” I said, “What’s your name?”

“Brittany,” she replied, “I play on the basketball team.”

Apparently in the midst of my ice-breaking, she mentioned that she had a boyfriend and we just figured to message each other on MySpace.

After celebrating a 116-97 win over the Toppers on the strength of seven players scoring in double figures, led by Sapp with 22 points, we stopped in Olive Branch, Mississippi at a McDonald’s.

“Did you make the free throw?” Coach Sanders asked me.

“It rimmed in and out, but I did manage to leave my mark on the town of Blue Mountain, Mississippi.”

“How?” someone asked.

“I got a few girls’ numbers.”

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