Every year, the Coahoma County Red Panthers amaze me.
Of course, I want the Red Panthers, along with all of our other teams in the community, to excel. But when it looks like Coahoma County is about to lose in big games, the players find ways to make it close and win in most cases.
Coahoma County has won the Class 2A Mississippi High School Activities Association boys basketball state championship three times in the past four seasons.
The Red Panthers are playing Newton in the 2020-21 championship at 3 p.m. Friday at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson. A win would make it four titles in the past five seasons.
For all of Coahoma County’s success, I have witnessed the Red Panthers finding themselves in big deficits it did not appear they could get out of.
In the 2016-17 championship game against Baldwyn, Coahoma County found itself in a double-digit deficit early on, but came from behind to win 60-47.
When the Red Panthers lost by two points in the 2018-19 semifinals to Bay Springs — the same team they beat Tuesday and in the 2017-18 state championship — they found themselves behind by double digits with only a few minutes remaining. The game still came down to the final shot.
As you see in today’s paper, Coahoma County trailed at Pisgah by 17 points at halftime and was behind once again at halftime at New Site by seven points. The Red Panthers came from behind to win both games and advance to the state tournament.
Coach Derrick Moore talked about how this year’s Red Panthers were untested when they were behind going into the playoffs. Yet they were still prepared and found ways to win both games.
That is a credit to Moore, the entire coaching staff and all of the players on the team.
While it would be nice for Coahoma County not to be in a situation where it has to make a serious comeback, it is good the Red Panthers do not give up, keep fighting and find ways to win.
I encourage everyone to support the Red Panthers on Friday and, if possible, make the trip to Jackson for the state championship game.
It will be some good basketball. Based on their history in 2020-21 and in past seasons, regardless of the score, you know the Red Panthers will have a chance to win for the entire 32 minutes.
Times have been difficult for everyone – locally, statewide and nationally – with the COVID pandemic. Not only is it hard to play a basketball game since it is such a contact sport, we are dealing with social distancing and trying to stay safe everywhere we go.
When we have a bright spot in our community like the Coahoma County Red Panthers during these troubling times, we should celebrate and support them.
The Red Panthers have a good outside shooting team with Jermell Daniels, Martin Williams, Amarian Phillips and Chris Abby. Tyler Martin provides a strong inside presence.
Opponents cannot key in on one player. Hopefully, that will benefit the Red Panthers and present Newton with problems on Friday.
I certainly hope I am writing a column next week congratulating the Coahoma County boys on their fourth championship in five seasons, but their hard work and determination have shown they are champions no matter what the scoreboard says.
Let’s support the Red Panthers Friday and hope they can win that championship trophy one more time!