Yazoo City basketball preps for State Champions Invitational

The Indians will play in the national tournament, hosted by ESPN, on April 6
Published: Mar. 25, 2023 at 9:30 PM CDT
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YAZOO CITY, Miss. (WLBT) - On March 2, the Yazoo City boys’ basketball team won its first state title since 1996. Usually, the state championship game is the end of a team’s season, but that’s not the case for the Indians.

“We thought it was over, but God had another blessing,” said senior guard Will Grayson. “Now, we’re going to be on ESPN and try to win another one.”

The ‘another one’ in question is the State Champions Invitational. The Indians were selected to play in the second-annual tournament in Washington D.C.

Head coach Anthony Carlyle said he received a call from an event organizer who said they really wanted a Mississippi team in the field, and it was between the 4A champion Indians, and 6A champions, Northwest Rankin.

“He saw that we beat them in January, so he gave the nod to us,” he said.

The team was out of the gym for 18 days, so Carlyle focused just on conditioning in practice this week.

“After about the second or third drill [on Monday] everybody was just out of air, needed water, you could just tell the conditioning was off,” Carlyle said. “So, we’ve been just trying to use this week to get our conditioning and get back into a rhythm.”

Some of the best teams in the nation will compete in the tournament. The Indians will face Corner Canyon High School, from Utah, in the first round. The winner of that game will play the 25th-ranked team in the country; Sidwell Friends in Washington D.C.

“It’s not going to be a cakewalk, there is going to be competition. We’ve got to go down there and play,” said junior forward Tamarion Hoover.

The Indians will be the only representative of the Magnolia State in the tournament, and the Indians hope to represent the state well.

“We’ve got to make the city look good, got to make the state look good,” Grayson said. “That’s what we’re going out there trying to do, trying to perform well.”

“This is the an opportunity that may not ever come back around again,” Carlyle said. “We want to try to make sure we can go represent, so when the committee looks back in another year or two, there may be another Mississippi team that they’re looking at, we want them to be able to say that that Yazoo City team came up here, represented, did a great job, so we can take another program from Mississippi.”

Round one will be Thursday, April 6 at Georgetown University. The Yazoo City/Corner Canyon game will tip-off at 7 p.m. central time. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.

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