JCJC’s Bobcat Math League expands and changes in third season

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2014-09-08 12:12:19

ELLISVILLE – As the third season of Jones County Junior College’s Bobcat Math League begins, high school “mathletes” will see a few changes and new faces. Nineteen teams are returning, three high schools are joining the ranks and one high school has bowed out of the League. All of these issues have forced a change in the makeup of the four divisions. 
“Mize High School has opted out this year because many of their potential mathletes are involved in other extra-curricular activities and the school didn’t feel it could commit this season,” said BML Commissioner and JCJC math instructor, Dr. Jessica Bunch. “We are excited to have Columbia and Heidelberg Academies, and Oak Grove High School joining the League. This will add another dimension to the competition.”
The regular season begins Monday, September 15, through Tuesday, October 21, with the final playoffs and Super Bowl to be held on November 5, 2014. All 22 teams will be invited to attend the post season when the top players will be recognized from each team. Also, the All-League Team and Most Outstanding Player will be recognized at the final competition.
“The Warriors are ready to show off and sharpen their math skills as they compete in the Bobcat Math League this year! OGHS students have been meeting regularly and working hard to prepare for the competition. We are so excited!” said Whitney Necessary, math league co-coach from Oak Grove.
The recent two week pre-season testing at each of the 22 high schools helped “coaches” formulate a team roster. Each division was created based on last year’s records, as well as taking into consideration the distance to other schools. Each team will either travel to or host their divisional foes for four or five weeks of competition in the six weeks of regular season competition. All four divisions will have new members this year, however the Newton Division may have the biggest challenge with three of the top four scoring teams from last year and two potential power-houses joining the division. Presbyterian Christian School was the 2013 Champions, Lawrence County was in second place and Sacred Heart tied for fifth place with Northeast Jones from the Fibonacci Division. Columbia Academy and Oak Grove will face tough competition as newcomers in the Newton Division.
“I’m excited about this season,” said Presbyterian Christian Coach, Melissa Brown. We have a really competitive division with the addition of Oak Grove and Columbia Academy and the return of Sacred Heart and Lawrence County. I know we have our work cut out for us, but I feel confident about our team this year.”
PCS will be loaded with experience with two of their 3-year starters and two All-League Team members, Alicia Brown and Sam Lucas. The Bobcats’ goal is to be in the Super Bowl for a third straight year and be Super Bowl champs again.
“We have a hard division this year, however I think we will do pretty well,” said Lucas. 
One other note for the Newton Division, Lawrence County coach Donna Wilson has transferred to Sacred Heart and will co-coach the Crusaders. 
“It was a very proud moment for me last year when my students at Lawrence County won second place in the BML,” said Wilson. “The students had all worked diligently at enhancing their math skills and it ‘paid off,’ not only in their win, but by increasing their ACT scores. The BML is a win-win situation for all involved.”
The eight play-off teams from last year were placed in the Einstein and Newton Divisions while the non-play-off teams were placed in the Fibonacci and Pythagoras Divisions. Moving to the Fibonacci Division will be Laurel High School, Quitman and Raleigh. The Einstein Division will be made up of Stringer and Taylorsville with Northeast Jones, Richton and West Jones crossing over to their new division. Newcomers, Heidelberg Academy will be added to the Fibonacci Division with original division members, South Jones and Wayne County. Wayne County has been close to taking the division in past years and welcomes a new coach, Dr. Marauo Davis. Pythagoras Division members, Collins and Seminary will be up against Sylva Bay Academy, Bay Springs, Mt. Olive and Perry Central. JCJC math instructor and BML statistician and referee, Bob Stevens said this guarantees there will be at least two new play-off teams.
“The play-off teams will be the four division winners and the four “Wild Card” teams will be determined by regular season point totals,” said Stevens. “There will no longer be a “Shoot-out” to determine the Wild Card teams, as in past years.”
Regular season matches will continue to be part written test and part quiz bowl type competition for students. Everyone will take tests with paper and pencil for the first half of the regular season. The second half will prepare students for the final playoffs with the addition of the buzzer system and a moderator asking questions.
“This should help students better prepare for the final rounds of competition,” said Dr. Bunch. 
The final eight teams will compete for cash and prizes at the playoffs in November, and the two top teams will strive to earn the title, “2014 JCJC Bobcat Math League Champions.”
“We are very appreciative of our coaches, players, principals, superintendents, parents, business sponsors and JCJC faculty and administration for their commitment to and support of the Bobcat Math League,” said Dr. Bunch.
Last spring, the BML was recognized as one of the state’s top school-community partnership programs during the 2014 Governor’s Awards luncheon, receiving the University/College Partnership Award at the 12th Annual Mississippi Association of Partners in Education’s Governor’s Awards for Outstanding School-Community Partnerships.
Donations from the private sector and community groups have enabled the League to be very visible with the participants having the option to dress out in League T-shirts. Fans can find scores in real time, at the JCJC Bobcat Math League’s Facebook page. High school students and coaches can also upload photos during practices or training sessions to share with their fan base. Local newspapers and media web pages will detail the competition with weekly stories and pictures from the competition.
“Sponsors and donors like Wade Creekmore, Cellular South (CSpire) Foundation, Chisholm Foundation and the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education, along with many community banks and individuals have been tremendous in their support of this initiative in their communities,” said Dr. Bunch.
Students are also seeing the benefits of their math skills. Sacred Heart junior, Matthew Gallardo pointed out, “Participation in the Bobcat Math League has taught me that there is always more to learn.”
Gallardo’s co-coach, Rick Muli also noted, “After some success last year, we have seen a tremendous increase in student interest in our competition team and the number of students vying for a place on the squad more than doubled this year.”
Some teams to watch are last years’ first and second place teams, Presbyterian Christian and Lawrence County, as well as Wayne County, Northeast Jones, Sacred Heart and 2012 Champions, Stringer. All of these teams are perennial contenders for the top trophy. 
“We hope every community will support the Bobcat Math League by establishing prizes, donations, scholarships, gas money or by simply checking scores and reading the weekly stories in the newspaper, web page and the League’s Facebook page,” said Dr. Bunch. 
Results will be posted on the JCJC Bobcat Math League web page under “Division Standings/Schedules at: www.jcjc.edu/bobcatmathleague/ and on the Bobcat Math League Facebook page. For more information about the Bobcat Math League contact Dr. Jessica Bunch (JCJC Bobcat Math League Commissioner) at 601-477-5422 or email at jessica.bunch@jcjc.edu.


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