Coahoma County High School’s boys and girls basketball teams played in the 2019-20 Class 2A state championships and it all came under the direction of one coach.
Derrick Moore, a 1996 CCHS graduate, led the Red Panthers to their third championship in four years and the Lady Red Panthers to the runner-up spot for the second time in four years. Moore’s efforts earned him the Clarksdale Press Register All-Area Overall Coach of the Year.
The Red Panthers championship was more challenging than usual as injuries caused a slow start to the season. The team also lost post player Jai’sheldon Yates, who transferred schools bfore the season.
“It was growing pains for the boys - lots of injuries and losing Jai’Sheldon right before the season starts,” Moore said.
Markevious Holmes, Tarkevius Logan, Bentavious Galmore, Christopher Abby and Keyshaun Holly were all injured early on.
“It gave guys a chance to play,” Moore said. “Of course, it gave the guys confidence. While the other guys were out, they just possibly carried the team. They had to.”
Moore said the Lady Red Panthers’ success came from experience with seniors Calysia Phillips, Nakia Cheatham, Shakira Artis and Brianna Ratliff leading the way. Ratliff was new to the team.
“Those kids, they grew up in our system,” Moore said. “They’ve been in it for awhile. We wanted them to come out, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
The Lady Red Panthers have consistently been successful, but they could not get over the hump.
“Every year, they start their season as ninth graders losing in the championship,” Moore said.
While Moore hopes to continue the success in 2020-21, he acknowledged it is hard for his athletes to practice since schools went to distance learning after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everything’s got to be done on your own at this time,” Moore said. “We’re hoping they ‘re conditioning on their own. We know these kids are without facilities and they can’t do anything pretty much.”
Point guard Benatvious Galmore and small forward, power forward, point guard and shooting guard Tarkevius Logan are co-All-Area MVPs for the boys.
Galmore does a little bit of everything and has a strong basketball IQ. He already committed to playing for Coahoma Community College next season and will major in criminal justice. Logan carried the team and has the best overall talent.
Galmore was on the past three state championship teams.
“This year, it was me going out on top,” he said. “It being my last year, it just felt good to go out on top.
“My ninth-grade year, I had a bunch of leaders around me. Coach trusted me. It was easy to be a leader.”
Galmore averaged 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a senior. He scored 17 points to win the state championship against Potts Camp and was the game’s MVP. He also won the C Spire Scholar Athlete Award for the Red Panthers at the championship game.
“I felt like I played my best that game to my potential,” he said. “It was one of my best feelings in that game.”
Logan was part of the past two state championship teams. He finished the season with 7.9 points, 3.2 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.
“It was a mindset game for me,” he said. “We all came together and played how we were so supposed to play the whole season.”
Logan said offense was the team’s strength most of the season, but the Red Panthers played a complete game in the state championship.
Logan, who also played football in high school, will attempt to play basketball at CCC and major in welding.
“I’m trying to go to CCC so we can put them on the map,” he said. “I’m just focused on basketball right now.”
Logan’s mid-range jumper led to success.
“I was really basically focused my mid-range jumper,” he said. “When they called iso, no one could stand in front of me when I had the ball.”
Calysia Phillips, a point and shooting guard, and Shakira Artis, a small forward, are the co-All-Area MVPs for the girls.
Phillips was second on the team in steals and points and showed up in every big game. She finished with 13 points, 5 assists and 4 steals per game. She won the C Spire Scholar Athlete Award for the Lady Red Panthers at the championship game.
“We all connected together,” Phillips said. “We became closer with each other like a sister bond.”
One of her better games was a loss at Tupelo in 2019.
“First, we came out a little bit sloppy,” she said. “Then, in the third and fourth quarter, we really got into the game and I had 27 points.”
Phillips will be playing for Northeast Mississippi Community College next season and plans to major in physical therapy.
Artis finished with 12 points, 2.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 3 steals per game. She was the team’s most consistent player all season, led the Lady Red Panthers in steals and was third in points.
“We were much better as a team. We were all together, no distractions,” Artis said. “Everybody was friends with each other.”
Artis scored 20 points at Charleston for a win in a district matchup. She connected on more than one 3-pointer. She was strong from the 3-point line all season.
“I had real good games sometimes, but I think my best game was when we played Charleston away,” she said.
Artis plans to attend CCC and major in cosmetology.