Mazique, Brown head up first team

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 30, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Crystal L. Brown has dreams. Goals she wants to fulfill. Aspirations to leave Natchez eventually and build a world outside of the only one she’s ever known.

But the boxes beside each objective can wait a little while longer. That’s why Brown, a member of The Natchez Democrat’s All-Metro first team, with a possible offer from Prairie View A&M in Houston on the table will likely head to Copiah-Lincoln Community College next season to continue her impressive basketball career.

&uot;I don’t want to go all the way to Houston because I’ve got people I love right here,&uot; said Brown, the Natchez High post who averaged more than 20 points a game as a senior. &uot;I want stay around a little longer and be able to drive home every weekend from Co-Lin.&uot;

Email newsletter signup

Joining Brown is teammate and Lady Bulldog guard Karmethia Mazique, Ferriday point LaShawnda Pryor, Jefferson County center Travalyn Smith, Huntington School post Emily Hazlip and Centreville Academy center Jenae Jackson to round out the first team.

Mazique and Brown, &uot;CB,&uot; have been teammates since seventh-grade physical education class at Robert Lewis Middle School.

&uot;I love playing with CB. I think she was the heart of our team and created so much for us,&uot; Mazique said. &uot;Whenever the defense collapsed on her she would kick it out to me or ‘Ne-Ne’ (Gloria Lewis) and we’d get our points. I loved getting the ball to her.&uot;

The diminutive, but slashy Lady Bulldog guard routinely carved up opponents’ defenses this season, penetrating to the basket and opening up shots for her or teammates.

Her determination and nose for the paint was bred back in the eighth grade when Mazique was cut from the team.

She said learning dealing with that disappointment has her where she is today.

&uot;I just try and go down the court and score or get my teammates the ball for their baskets,&uot; Mazique said. &uot;I don’t care too much for shooting because I like to pass the ball.&uot;

Pryor, the spark plug point guard for the 32-1 Ferriday Lady Trojans, earns a spot on the first team after she averaged 15 points, eight assists and four steals a game.

And for a team that everyone thought was all Monique Jones, Pryor was a big reason the team’s full-court press was so brutal for opponents.

&uot;When she first got here as a freshman, she couldn’t shoot worth a lick,&uot; Ferriday head coach Lisa Abron said. &uot;She really couldn’t. She had so much speed and aggression out on the court, and that’s what you need when you’re trying to play good defense. She’s a good floor general out there. She set the pace for each game we played.&uot;

Pryor currently does not have the ACT score to play at a four-year school, and she is leaning toward McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas &045; across town from Baylor.

But there are Division I programs interested &045; Southern, Grambling, Alcorn and Southeastern Louisiana.

&uot;She wants to be close to Monique,&uot; Abron said. &uot;Once she visits and meets with the coaches, I’m sure she’ll make up her mind from there. But it’s not a done deal yet. She can definitely play at the next level.&uot;

Smith, who averaged more than 25 points per game this past season, was a force in the paint for any division 7-3A opponent.

Along with second-teamer guard Shaterrica Hall, Smith accepted the role as a scorer in Jefferson County’s run to the division title.

However the season came to a screeching halt when they were upset by Wilkinson County in the first round of the district tournament.

Centreville head coach John Brashier thinks his 5-foot-10 junior Jenae Jackson has all the tools to play at the next level.

&uot;I don’t think there will be a better potential division one candidate next season in our district than (Jackson),&uot; Brashier said of his post, who averaged close to 15 ppg to go along with seven blocks. &uot;She has by far improved by leaps and bounds from her sophomore year. She’s the consummate team player and knows what to do with the ball when she gets it inside.&uot;

Brashier said Jackson is refraining from running track this spring and will forgo a summer softball league to play with an AAU team out of Jackson.

Already Jackson is getting a hard look from Southern Miss, Brashier said.

There was perhaps no more dominant a player than Hazlip in Mississippi Private School Association’s district 7-1A.

Hazlip had the unique and seldom seen ability to hold court in the paint, but also step outside and knock down a clutch 3-pointer when asked of.

Unlike her cohort Brown, Mazique is looking forward to tasting a bit of that freedom that comes with college.

Offers from Co-Lin and Meridian Junior College exist, but the senior thinks Meridian is a better fit.

&uot;I like the culture in Meridian and I think Co-Lin is a little too close,&uot; Mazique said. &uot;Meridian is three hours away. Not too far, but not too close.&uot;

Mazique said she has been dribbling a basketball since she could walk and remembers not being allowed on the court with older brothers Douglas and Ketdric because she was too young.

She’d stay afterward and shoot and dribble until dark.

&uot;When she penetrates the defense always picked her up and I was there wide open,&uot; Brown said. &uot;She gave it up and I was always ready for it.&uot;

Ready is exactly the word for Brown, who believes she is prepared to grow up and stare life down.

Brown, who currently works at Krystal away from school, can picture her life five and 10 years from now and sees one with a lot of color.

&uot;I never want to work at another fast-food restaurant again for the rest of my life,&uot; Brown said. &uot;I want to get an education and make a life for myself. I know it’s going to take hard work to get it, though.