All-Star games filled with talent, recruits

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 7, 2002

[06/07/02]Warren Central’s Brian Pettway, Joey Lieberman, John Morgan Mims and Vicksburg High’s J.J. Brown will close the book on their high school career Saturday at Smith-Wills Stadium in the MHSAA 4A/5A All-Star game.

Before they do that, however, one of them will have to hit the books.

Pettway, The Vicksburg Post’s 2002 Player of the Year, might not even start for the North all-stars. He will take the ACT in the morning at Mississippi College in Clinton, then drive to the game in Jackson.

The test starts at 8 a.m. and will end around noon, leaving little time to spare.

“The most important thing on my mind Saturday will be the ACT, but after the test I’ll enjoy the all-star game,” the Ole Miss signee said.

Mims has yet to sign a scholarship, but Okaloosa-Walton Community College in Niceville, Fla., is giving him a serious look.

A coaching change has delayed any offer from the school, he said.

Several other schools, including Delta State, Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Fla., and Chipola Community College in Mariana, Fla., have all shown interest.

“I’m not putting any added pressure for me to do well in the game,” Mims said. “Whatever happens, happens.”

Lieberman, who moved from shortstop to second base because of a nagging shoulder injury, said the shoulder is still bothering him, but he will give it a go anyway.

“It hurts everyday, but this is my last high school game so I want to play,” said Lieberman, a Meridian Community College signee.

The all-star game has become a Warren Central reunion of sorts over the past three years. The Vikings, one of the state’s top teams in that span, have put six players in the all-star roster in three years.

Each of this year’s all-stars said the game will be bittersweet.

“Its going to be different not playing ball with Joey or Brian after tomorrow,” Mims said.

The Vikings, considered one of the favorites for the state championship last season, were ousted by Tupelo in the second round. WC won the state title in 2001.

“I’m sad that high school is over, but college is going to be even better,” Lieberman said.

Pettway added, “You hope high school will last forever but this a perfect way to go out.”

The season ended in early May, so to keep in shape Pettway, Lieberman and Mims have been playing summer ball with the Jackson 96ers, while Brown has had major league workouts with the Twins, Braves and Brewers to keep him in the swing of things.

Brown was chosen in the 26th round of the baseball’s amateur draft on Wednesday.

Since the Vikings were put out of the playoffs in the second round this year, the three seniors have an opportunity to go out with a win.

The North lost last year’s game as Hattiesburg’s Cliff Russum, now at Southern Miss, earned the win. Lieberman said it’s time for the North to show they can play.

“I hope to go out with a bang on Saturday,” Lieberman said.

Leadership was a major role for the Vikings this season. Whether it was verbal or shown by action the trio stuck together and made their senior season a success.

“These three got the job done on the field when it was needed,” Warren Central baseball coach Randy Broome said.

Starkville High head coach Danny Carlisle will lead the North all-stars. Last year the Vikings put the Yellow Jackets out of the playoffs in the first round.

“Hope he doesn’t take last year’s loss out on us,” Lieberman said with a chuckle.