Natchez’s No. 3 rank team effort

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2000

After already defeating some of the state’s top teams en route to a 13-1 record and a No. 3 state ranking, the Natchez Bulldogs have exceeded everyone’s expectations but their own.

Despite losing six seniors – including leading scorer David Haywood – to graduation, the Bulldogs have found new heroes in juniors Vasshun Newborn and Ja’Kel Foster and senior Jamal Bouldin. But Natchez’s three leading scorers are quick to share the spotlight with their teammates.

&uot;We all stick together. We’re all on the same page,&uot; Foster said. &uot;Nobody says ‘I.’ We all say ‘we.’&uot;

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&uot;Nobody’s selfish on this team,&uot; Bouldin said. &uot;Everybody has a role. We pick up for each other.

&uot;We have bad games, too,&uot; he said, referring to himself and his two teammates. &uot;Somebody needs to be there to pick up the slack.&uot;

Part of the Bulldogs’ sense of team comes from familiarity. &uot;We’re always together as a team,&uot; Newborne said. &uot;Even in the summer.&uot;

The majority of the team attended a summer basketball camp together in Birmingham, Ala., Newborne said. But the core of the teams has been together a lot longer than that.

&uot;We’ve been playing together since we were 10. We’ve been together a long time,&uot; Foster said. &uot;We were together at Thompson School, and on the playgrounds before that.&uot;

Another strength of the team is summed up in the word emblazoned on the front of every player’s practice jersey – &uot;commitment.&uot;

&uot;Commitment to the team, commitment to each other,&uot; Bouldin said. &uot;Commitment to everything.&uot;

Commitment to the sport is not a problem.

&uot;I love this game,&uot; Foster said. &uot;It’s in my blood.&uot;

&uot;I just love to shoot the rock,&uot; Bouldin said. &uot;Just the feel of the ball makes me happy.&uot;

As does a 3-0 District 6-5A record and a very real shot at a season to remember.

&uot;I look to go to the big house,&uot; Foster said.

&uot;But right now we want to stay focused and take it one game at a time,&uot; Newborne said. &uot;We’re not worried about our record or ranking. We’re worried about winning games.&uot;