Eagles shooting for first boys title

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 18, 2001

[05/18/01] When Porters Chapel Academy battles Heidelberg Friday, the Eagles will be searching for something no other boys’ team in the history of the school has done: Win a state championship.

PCA’s girls’ basketball team won state titles in the 1988 and 1990 seasons.

The only championship appearance for the boys prior to this season was the 1975 baseball team, which was swept in the state finals by Nathan Bedford Forrest Academy in Arkansas.

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Heidelberg coach on guard this week

Heidelberg head coach Tom Ainsworth has been a wanted man this week.

Ainsworth, a member of the Mississippi National Guard, has been on maneuvers at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg all week, forcing him to juggle practices and games with his military duties. Assistant coach Tom Lewis has helped pick up the slack.

“I’ve worked back and forth. I’ve been in as many places as I can,” Ainsworth said with a laugh. “It sure was a bad week for it, but they’re working real hard for us.”

What was that motto again?

PCA’s mantra through the playoffs has been three simple words focus, confidence and intensity. Coach Randy Wright has hammered it into his players so much during pep talks over the last three weeks that they often finish his sentence whenever he brings it up, and it has apparently spread through the school.

A large banner bearing the words was posted on the hill above PCA’s field by other students prior to Game 1.

“Evidently,” Wright said when asked if he thought his message was getting across. “Anytime you talk to one of our kids, they talk about focus.”

PCA’s record in the postseason indicates it is working. The Eagles have won six of seven playoff games, including the first game of all three series.

“That’s the only thing we think about, focusing, being confident, and putting people away once we get up on them,” PCA pitcher Heath Smith said.

“Those three things are the keys to winning championships … We had all three of them (Tuesday) night. Just about every batter I faced, I looked up and saw that sign.”