Two of the Coast's most successful coaches over the last 25 years travel to Jackson seeking to add another state title to their impressive career resumés.
Bay High girls coach Debbie Triplett and Pass Christian boys coach Buddy Kennedy both lead their teams into the Class 4A quarterfinals in Jackson on Thursday.
The Pass Christian boys (26-6) take on Corinth (26-2) at 4 p.m. at the Mississippi Coliseum while the Bay High girls (23-6) face Corinth (17-10) at 7 p.m. at Jackson State.
Triplett, who has been coaching at Bay High since 1992, has already claimed three state championships.
Kennedy is seeking his second state title after claiming the Class 3A championship in 2009.
Kennedy's run to Jackson is a little more special considering he has already announced this season as his last.
"I've tried not to dwell on it too much as we're getting close to the end," Kennedy said this week. "It's hard not to think about it some. Going into the (51-43 win over Lawrence County) Saturday night, it was good how turned it out. It made it real nice to get a win in my last home game. It was certainly a significant win."
Kennedy hopes his team's difficult schedule has prepared the Pirates to contend with the tough road ahead in Jackson.
The Pirates played 16 games against teams in higher classifications this season and were 11-5 in those games, including impressive wins over Class 5A Wayne County and Class 6A Harrison Central.
"I think it's paid dividends already," Kennedy said of the tough non-region schedule. "In the first half of the season, we lost some really close games. I think that developed some mental toughness."
Pass Christian faces a Corinth team that has faced fewer large programs, but has dominated the competition.
Six-foot-2 senior forward Antares Gwynn leads Corinth with averages of 18.5 points and 11.6 rebounds this season.
Sophomore guard Axavius Stricklen is the most productive player in the Corinth backcourt, averaging 12.0 points and 2.8 assists a game.
"Corinth is a big challenge for us," Kennedy said. "We've got to come together as a team. We've got great senior leadership. We've got a lot of veteran players. I'm excited the guys have this opportunity and I think we'll compete up there."
Lady Tigers on a roll
The Bay High girls haven't lost since falling 45-36 to Class 6A Brandon in the Bay High Christmas Tournament on Dec. 29.
"We came in and had some tough practices after that tournament," Triplett said. "It seemed we got together. In the second half of the season in the district schedule, we started playing harder and together better. We got more people contributing."
Junior point guard Jamaya Galloway has set the pace for Bay High all season with averages of 16.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2.8 steals.
The Corinth girls are making their first appearance in Jackson in program history.
"They've got several kids that can shoot the three," Triplett said. "We'll have to do a very good job of defending all their shooters. They have a little post girl inside that is athletic."
Triplett is confident that Bay High senior Simone Jackson, who stands 6-foot-1, will give the Lady Tigers a size advantage.
Jackson, who has signed with Delta State, averaged 12.8 points and 6.8 rebounds this season.
"I feel like we've been playing more confident," Triplett said. "We've got more people contributing. We had four people in double figures (in a 62-49 win over South Pike last week). That's what it's going to take. Everybody has got to be a scoring threat."