The Mississippi Heat continued their success on the hardwood over the last three weeks.
The West Point based traveling team which features 16U athletes from several counties, finished second in the last three tournaments they’ve played in; Memphis, West Point and Hamilton.
This year the Heat has a very balanced, strong and deep offensive attack.
While Dantaveous Crawford leads in scoring averaging 14 points, he also ranks in the top three in almost every category.
Johnson says the inside muscle comes from Ev’Rick Jones (West Oktibbeha) who puts up double-double numbers with nine points and nine boards a game and Lyndon Johnson (West Point High) posts eight points and nine rebounds.
The Heat long distance shooting is provided mostly by Joseph Bridges (West Point High), Crawford,Tandon Berry of Starkville High and Shabarius Jefferson (New Hope).
The ball handling and ball distribution has been handled solidly by Javarest Gray of West Oktibeha and Rick Evans of Starkville. While having mostly sophomores and juniors, the Heat also has a eight grader (Larry Hyde) whom has provided great defensive help.
The Heat had won three of the first four they played in this year and it turned out to be enough to be awarded an invite to the Mid-America Youth Basketball national tournament in August.
“We received the invitation about two weeks ago,” head coach Oliver Johnson said.
But there was a scheduling conflict. The tournament runs from August 4-7 and several area school districts, including Lowndes County which starts August 4 started that week. West Point students go back August 8. Schools in Wichita, Kan., where the tournament is held, wouldn’t start until later in the month.
“I talked with the guys and told them it’s not going to fit our schedule,” Johnson said. “I’m not going to ask them to miss school to play summer league ball.” For Johnson and the Heat is was a little disappointing.
“You get invited based on your success during the year and we’ve earned that right because of where we finished in these tournament’s,” he said. “But academics come first.”
“I would have liked to been in the nationals and put my team against some of the best in country,” Johnson said.
The Heat close out the year with a tournament in either Paducah, Ky. or Conway Ark., which ever they feel might be more profitable. Johnson said he’s going to use the nationals invite as motivation for his team to get a first place trophy to end the season.