NHS boys, girls teams stick together to push for undefeated seasonPublished 12:01am Friday, December 20, 2013
NATCHEZ — It all started after their season ended early in a loss to Terry High School in February.
The Natchez High School Bulldogs knew if they wanted to get further in the playoffs, they must work harder to achieve that goal.
The 2012-2013 Bulldogs finished the season 12-12, but the players were more motivated than ever to change the program around in just nine months.
Assistant coach David Haywood said his players motivated him as a coach when they showed willingness and determination after their loss.
“It’s like the guys just showed up the next morning ready to start working instead of taking the week off,” Haywood said.
Haywood said their hard work trickled down into the summer and into fall workouts before their first game against Jefferson County, in which they won 70-31.
The Bulldogs now boast a perfect 9-0 record heading into district, and Haywood said the record is a result of being a defensive-minded team.
“We’re trying to pay a lot of attention to detail on defense, and everybody is helping everybody no matter if we’re in a man-to-man or a zone defense,” he said.
Haywood said playing good defense requires great teamwork, and the players must understand they are all a small part of something big.
“We try to preach to the guys that this team is just like a puzzle, and everybody has to be a piece of the puzzle,” Haywood said. “We want you to do what you do well, and build on each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Senior guard De’Arius Griffin said the couple of close games this season, have showed that his teammates have the character and poise to pull out wins in a tight spot.
“We did whatever it took to win and never say die,” Griffin said.
Griffin said they’re not as focused on their 9-0 record as they are on getting their first win against Pearl River Central tonight.
“We want to be 1-0 in district going into the break,” he said.
Haywood said the Bulldogs get a lot of motivation from watching the Lady Bulldogs play right before their games.
“They see how the girls play hard, and it’s motivating to see the girls giving all they have,” Haywood said. “When the girls press, sometimes they all look like they’re all on one sync, and we know if we do that, we’ll be good.”
The Lady Bulldogs are a great team to mimic, as they are also on a journey to stay undefeated at 9-0, and head coach Alphaka Moore said she is proud of their quick start.
“We have started off really strong,” she said. “We’ve had a coupl
e of turns of inconsistency, but we still have overall improvement.”
The Lady Bulldogs have managed to stay undefeated despite key players struggling with injuries, thanks to everyone knowing their roles.
“Everybody plays their role, and as long as you play your role, we have nothing to worry about,” Moore said. “We know we have to come together as a group instead of worrying and panicking when someone gets hurt.”
Marquita Wallace, a senior guard, has been a Lady Bulldog before they transformed into an elite squad, and she said the process was difficult, yet rewarding. One thing she said is a major difference from her freshman year to now is the team bond.
“We communicate way better, and there’s no dislike on the team,” Wallace said. “We know defense wins games, and right now it feels good (to be undefeated). We just have to keep it up because we haven’t played any district teams yet.”
Wallace said the boys and girls team encourage each other to play well and that they’ll have to keep motivating each other as they go into district play tonight.
“We tell each other to have a great game and that you got this and to play team ball,” she said.
The Lady Bulldogs play Pearl River Central at 5 p.m. today, and the boys will play immediately after.