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OC gal Fussell, SF softball top can’t ‘Miss’ stories list

OC gal Fussell, SF softball top can’t ‘Miss’ stories list
Whether on or off their respective playing fields and/or courts, local teams and athletes grabbed their share of headlines during 2010.
Obion County sports figures and teams regularly competed for the highest of honors on both the local and statewide levels, continuing that long-standing tradition of athletic excellence.
The following a list compiled by the paper’s sports staff of Top 10 stories to make The Messenger in the past 12 months.

No. 1
OC’s Fussell can’t ‘Miss’
Obion County Central basketball standout Chassidy Fussell claimed the ultimate individual prize when she was named Class 2A’s Miss Basketball following the girls’ state tournament in March. The 5-10 Fussell, who’d inked a college scholarship with Texas in November of 2009, averaged 26.2 points, 11.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists per-game her senior season. She was a finalist for the award as a junior, and also a two-time all-stater and a nominee for the McDonald’s High School All America team. Fussell scored more than 2,500 points in her highly-decorated prep career to rank second on the school’s all-time scoring list. Fussell become the first-ever girls’ player from Obion Central to win the prestigious award and just the second in school history to be so honored, joining Rebel boys’ legend Cannon Whitby.

No. 2
SF softball matches best
The South Fulton High School softball team made a glorious run at the Class 1A state championship, matching the best finish in the program’s lauded history with a third-place finish that matched the Devilettes’ best-ever showing. With the all-state battery of sophomore Haley McKinney and junior backstop Paxton Sisson leading the way, SF won a school-record 34 games and was the last public school standing in the tournament — eventually won by perennial power Trinity Christian Academy for the fourth time in five years. Austin Peay-bound shortstop Kayla Davidson, Dyersburg State signee Morgan Maxwell and steady centerfielder Katie Bivens were the only seniors on a youthful Lady Devil roster, and seven of the team’s starters were underclassmen, including solid infielders Kaci Daugherty and Marina Barclay. Veteran head coach Curt Lee guided the Devilettes to their sixth state tournament appearance in his 12-year tenure and now can boast of a gaudy .771 winning percentage with a 280-82-1 all-time mark.

No. 3
Five locals to college grid
An unprecedented five football players from Obion County inked scholarship papers on National Signing Day in February. Union City’s Josh Nicks and Ronnie Fair signed with Southeast Missouri State and Bethel University, respectively. Meanwhile, the Obion Central duo of Patrick Haskins and Aaron Cary chose Ohio Valley Conference schools with the former opting for Austin Peay and the latter taking Tennessee Tech’s offer. South Fulton’s Sam Curtis combined the best of two worlds, staying within 15 minutes from home and joining the UT Martin football squad. Of the five, Nicks saw the most playing team as a special teams player and backup fullback as SEMO advanced to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs for the first time in the 104-year history of the school’s football program. Haskins also logged time on the OVC gridiron before he ultimately chose to leave Austin Peay. Cary transferred from Tennessee Tech to Kilgore College, where he played in the fall, while Fair did not attend Bethel. Curtis was red-shirted at UTM.

No. 4
Others make state runs
Many local athletes were in the hunt for individual state championships of all sorts during 2010. In Class A-AA golf, South Fulton’s Chase Mayfield finished near the top of the list at the TSSAA State Tournament, claiming the seventh spot. Mayfield was in third after Day 1 of the state tourney. Union City sophomore Mollie Stone also got in on the action at the TSSAA golf finale. Stone, who became the first Union City female to get to the state tournament since 1994, posted a respectable 26th-place finish at the Class A-AA championship. Additionally, UC had two athletes competing at the Class A-AA State Track and Field meet. Speedster DeAndrez Williams came home in sixth place in the 400-meter dash. Twister teammate Chase Bowling was seventh in the discus throw. Finally, a pair of youngsters representing Union City Middle School finished second at the state level of the NFL’s Punt, Pass and Kick competition. Caroline Chism was the runner-up with UC ties on the girls’ side, while Jacob Hyde finished in second on the boys’ side. Both athletes won local and regional competitions to gain entry into the state finals at the Tennessee Titans’ training facility.

No. 5
SFMS nears OCSS sweep
South Fulton would have procured a clean sweep if not for Black Oak’s victory in the Obion County School System’s girls’ basketball tournament. The Big Red middle school athletic programs won the boys’ basketball, football and softball crowns. The basketball and football titles were the fourth in a row for SF. On the softball diamond, South Fulton reclaimed its spot at the OCSS peak by knocking off alum Maddie Carrington and the Lake Road team that she coached. The boys’ basketball team also dethroned two-time defending Area 5 champion Paris Inman en route to a 21-1 worksheet. Harrison Hawks, Jacoby Garmon, Tymaine Strickland and Kyle Watkins were among the Red Devils’ most consistent performers during the season. On the football field, Hunter Wade starred for the champion Red Devils – who downed Hillcrest 36-14 in the Rebel Bowl. Hunter Wade, Anthony Cox and Cory Pinion were consistently among the top performers for the SF football team throughout the campaign. On the softball diamond, South Fulton, which finished 19-1, edged LR 4-3 to reclaim the OCSS crown. Kristin Crocker and Sierra Coley did most of SF’s mound work throughout the season. Devilette infielder Aalia Bivens and Sydney Easterwood provided solid bats along with Maddie Kate Coffey and Melanie Johnson.

No. 6
Much to cheer at UCMS
It was certainly the best of times for a lot of Union City Middle School athletes. For starters, the Lady Twisters (19-2) posted their best-ever finish, winning the Area 4 championship for the first time in school history and ending the season just one victory shy of the West Sectional title — the richest prize a middle school team can obtain. UC was denied the sectional crown in a hotly-contested 44-41 overtime defeat to Lake County. Eighth-graders Jackie Hudson, Amber Fair, Brittany Parker, Na’tyra King and Kaleigh Bynum stood out for the Lady Twisters as the team’s leaders. The UCMS basketball girls weren’t alone in making waves for the school athletically. A total of 22 athletes advanced to the West Sectional in track and field. The Union City boys team finished in fourth-place out of the 40 teams represented at Memphis. However, one Lady Twister was the best individual standout at the West Sectional track meet. Hudson claimed two gold medals at the sectional with a win in both the shot put and discus. On the boys’ side, the 800-meter relay team of Daulton Parish, Iroa Smith, Dontarius Owens and Jamie Hyde gained a bronze medal as did distance runner Cesar Landeros. The Twister football team also had an outstanding season, finishing 9-2 and as the West Tennessee Athletic Conference’s North division champion. UC ended up just two victories short of the West Sectional championship game with a defeat in the small school semifinals. Alex Reid and Jacob Hyde provided much of the offensive ammunition for the Twisters throughout the season.

No. 7
UC hoopsters finish at substate
The Union City boys’ basketball program continued its trend of playing deep into the postseason by advancing to the Class 1A Sectional before dropping a heartbreaking last-second contest at Memphis Westwood. The Tornadoes, who can count five past state titles among its glorious past, claimed a share of the District 14A regular season championship and went on to qualify for their 17th trip to the sectional — a level previously known as the substate. UC’s tournament run ended against the seventh-ranked Longhorns (63-61), who made the game-winning shot with 1.8 seconds left to break the hearts of the Purple and Gold. Josh Battee was generally considered the most-consistent performer for Union City, which finished the year 22-13 and marked the ninth time in head coach Shane Sisco’s tenure that the Twisters had won 20 or more games. Guards Antonio Cox and Tyler Steward also had their moments during the year for UC.

No. 8
Fewer skippers switch
Though fewer than in recent years, a handful of head coaching changes in various sports was the topic of conversation at various times over the past dozen months. At South Fulton, Keith Frazier relinquished the Red Devil boys’ hoop job in March, lightening his considerable load at the school. Frazier kept his titles of assistant principal, athletic director and football aide to Kelly Spivey. Wes Miller, who’d served the previous three seasons at Brighton, was named in May to fill the SF roundball post. Obion Central head baseball coach Russ Davis resigned his baseball duties at the end of the season to concentrate on administration responsibilities at the Career Technology Center and was in June replaced by 23-year-old Chris Smith. Smith a two-sport standout in high school, was hired earlier in the spring as a football assistant to Shawn Jackson at OCCHS. At Union City — after Cristina Grimm reportedly said she didn’t know if she wanted to continue to coach — Shane Sisco again took over the Tornado softball fortunes. Grimm’s tenure was a short one (one year) and followed a three-year stint by Sisco who had earlier established some respectability in a sport long void of that. Mixon Moore was named to be both the boys’ and girls’ soccer coach at South Fulton with the start-up of that program. There were as many as a dozen new assistant coaches appointed throughout Obion County’s multiple sports programs.

No. 9
Lady Rebs, Twisters topple No. 1s
For one night anyway, Obion County conquered prep basketball’s best. On January 27, the Obion Central girls knocked off No. 1-ranked and reigning Class 2A state champion Gibson County, 69-56. The fourth-ranked Lady Rebels broke GC’s 55-game overall winning streak and the Pioneer girls’ 40-game home winning streak in the process as Macy Wright poured in 28 points and Chassidy Fussell added 21. On that very same night, Union City upset the top-ranked boys’ team in Class 1A, edging Humboldt 68-67. The No. 7 Tornadoes got 25 points from Antonio Cox and 12 more from Rakim Gaston, but it was a 28-foot bank shot by Josh Battee at the regulation buzzer that sent the game into overtime. Cox hit a 20-foot shot at the head of the key under heavy pressure to provide the game-winning points for UC.

No. 10
West TN ’Hounds go global
The West Tennessee Greyhounds, comprised of all but two youths that play in the Union City Cal Ripken League, went global. The 11-year-old team won the United States Specialty Sports Association Global World Series in Orange Beach, Ala. Jon David Fuzzell, Jack Guess, Sam Guess, Graham Paschall, Tripp Conley, Cooper Hurt, Jordan Fowler, Hayden Smith and Thomas Barnes made up the local contingent on the squad. Dresser Winn (Dresden) and Mac Hicks (Dyer) were the regular out-of-towners on the team along with Drew Harbin of Humboldt, who joined the team as a pick-up player for the GWS. During their four contests in Alabama, the ’Hounds allowed just a total of four runs and committed zero errors. They won the championship with an 8-2 victory over Blazer Baseball from Plaucheville, La.

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