Five Porter’s Chapel Academy athletes sign with college programs

Published 4:00 am Sunday, April 14, 2024

Porter’s Chapel Academy’s senior Class of 2024 will graduate in a few weeks, but several of its athletes are far from finished.

Five PCA athletes — basketball players Jae’la Smith and Lauren Madison, cheerleaders Madison Grey and Peyton Combs, and baseball player John Wyatt Massey, recently signed with college programs. They celebrated their achievements at a pair of signing ceremonies at the school.

Smith signed with Pearl River Community College, Madison with Meridian Community College, Massey with Coahoma Community College, Grey with Delta State University, and Combs with Hinds Community College.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“It’s good. I wish everybody had a chance to do something else, but it’s enough. For, like, 10 people (in the senior class) that’s very good,” Madison said.

Madison and Smith both transferred from Warren Central to PCA for their senior year, and they teamed up to lead their new school’s girls’ basketball team to a memorable season.

Madison averaged 11.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, while Smith averaged 26.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 5.4 steals. PCA finished with a 19-2 record and won the MAIS District 4-3A championship. Both Madison and Smith were selected as MAIS all-stars, and Smith was the MVP of the Class 2A-3A game.

The success led to college offers and then scholarships for both of them.

“It feels real good. I didn’t think I was going to have that chance at one point,” Madison said. “I’m trying to do more at that position. I didn’t really do a lot at Warren Central, but I did enough at PCA. I didn’t get noticed at Warren Central. This year I got noticed. I got my name out there.”

Smith, who was the 2024 Vicksburg Post girls’ Player of the Year for Warren County, called it a “blessing” to continue her basketball career.

“I’m blessed. I’m happy that I have that opportunity. I always dreamed about it,” she said.
Massey has also had a breakout year as a two-sport star. He was The Vicksburg Post’s football Offensive Player of the Year, and is having an excellent season in baseball as well.

Massey entered this week batting .365 with five home runs, 30 RBIs and 29 runs scored for the Eagles (16-7), who are in first place in MAIS District 4-3A. He is also 6-3 as a pitcher, with 43 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings.

“It’s just finally all come together. Every year is building on the next, and really this summer — in every sport — I focused on getting stronger,” Massey said. “Strength helps in every sport. So getting stronger is allowing me to be more successful.”

Massey said Coahoma’s interest in him came out of the blue.

“He contacted me just through texts. I went up to visit the campus, and one thing led to another and I’m here,” Massey said. “It’s a great opportunity. I’m obviously excited for it. Ready to get going and contribute right away.”
Grey, meanwhile, was already considering attending Delta State to pursue a nursing degree, and the chance to also join its cheerleading team sealed the deal.

Grey has been involved in cheer since she the seventh grade. She’ll be part of Delta State’s football, basketball and competitive teams.

“I went to a cheer clinic and they asked me to join the team based on the clinic. I was planning on going there, and that was the big thing that drew me closer,” Grey said. “It’s very exciting.”

Grey said that while she has been cheering for several years, it was only recently that she considered doing it in college.

“I went to my first college cheer clinic at the beginning of the year, and then I was like, ‘I really like cheering with the bigger girls. This is something I want to do,” Grey said.

Combs has also been involved with cheer and dance for most of her life, and said getting an opportunity to keep doing what she loves is exciting.

“It’s really exciting. I’ve been excited ever since the first clinic,” Combs said. “I’ve always planned on college cheer. Maybe not one of the big schools, but something little where I can perfect all of my skills and then get to a bigger school.”

Combs has been involved with dance for 13 years, and said cheerleading is a natural complement to that activity. High school cheer, and especially competitive cheer, involves a lot of choreography and moves that are also used in dance.

“I’ve been doing cheer since peewee, and then the actual cheer since seventh grade. I’ve always had a love for it,” Combs said. “I did dance for 13 years and I guess it really coincides with cheer. Porter’s Chapel doesn’t have a dance team, so I was like, ‘I’ll take up cheer and see how it goes,’ and I fell in love with it.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

email author More by Ernest