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Prep basketball look ahead: Challenges await

NATCHEZ — The Natchez High School and Jefferson County High School boys’ basketball teams left all they had on the floor of the Mary Jean Irving Memorial Gymnasium Friday night.

The Tigers and the Bulldogs battled for four tough quarters with Jefferson County edging Natchez by a point.

Now both teams look to recover and move on, with Jefferson County hoping to keep its momentum against two very different opponents this week, while Natchez looks to use its tough loss as motivation.

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Natchez High School’s Eric Fry goes up for a shot against Jefferson County High School’s JaDarrius Harried during Friday’s game. Jefferson County edged Natchez 54-53. Both teams play twice this week.

The Bulldogs will travel to face Franklin Parish, a team that already has two wins over Vidalia High School, Tuesday.

Natchez (2-3) will then host McComb High School (7-2) Friday.

Assistant Coach David Haywood said he hopes the Bulldogs will be able to learn from their close loss to Jefferson County.

“It gives us experience,” Haywood said. “We’ve been through (a close game) and now we know what to expect.”

Jefferson County will host an Amite County team that features a number of good shooters, head coach Marcus Walton said.

“We are really going to have to focus on our rotation on defense,” Walton said.

Amite County is 3-5 on the season with wins over Franklin County and Wilkinson County.

The Tigers will face 4-2 Tylertown Friday, a team Walton described as very well-coached and tough to beat.

Ferriday High School

The Trojans are set to host Block High School Tuesday before wrapping up the week with Vidalia High School at home.

For Trojans head coach K.G. Watkins, the Ferriday-Block matchup has a bit of a personal touch to it. Watkins came to Ferriday after coaching at Block for several seasons, and Watkins said he’s looking forward to his current team facing his former team.

“I don’t know how much energy (my players will) have, but I know I’ll have quite a bit of energy,” Watkins said. “We’ve been struggling here lately, so it’s about time for us to start playing well. Hopefully we’ll have a good game with Block that will help us get ready to make a run.”

Lady Trojans head coach Lisa Abron said she’s been coaching against Block long enough to know that the Lady Bears like to play up-tempo basketball.

“They’re young and inexperienced just like us, so it should be a battle,” Abron said. “It’s also for bragging rights, since it’s a cross-town rivalry game. We lost at their place I think by four last year, so when they come over here, we should be ready for them.”

Cathedral High School

The Green Wave will face a familiar foe in Centreville Academy Tuesday when Cathedral travels to Centreville. The Green Wave edged the Tigers 58-55 in their Nov. 26 matchup, and head coach Peter Arnold said it’s likely to be another close game.

“Every game we’ve played in that we’ve been in, we’ve had to battle until the end,” Arnold said. “When you’re in a rebuilding situation, wins are hard to come by. Any win we get, we have to battle for 32 minutes.”

The Lady Green Wave also won their first matchup with the Lady Tigers 36-29, but head coach Randy Smith said it would be in his team’s best interest not to get overconfident.

Smith referenced his team’s 47-32 loss to Monterey Nov. 29 that came after the Lady Green Wave had already beaten the Lady Wolves earlier in the season.

“I could tell in the first minute of the game that we weren’t ready,” Smith said. “They were quick to the ball and hustling, and we were not shooting well. Our girls went in thinking they could beat Monterey no problem, and they got spanked.”

Cathedral will wrap up its week with a matchup against Adams County Christian School Saturday.