Natchez girls welcome back Green as area teams open district

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Out of basketball for a season, Mable Green got a chance to think things over.

The speedy, sure-handed shortstop on the Natchez High softball team was a mainstay in basketball, too, up until last season. And it’s anybody’s guess as to why she sat out and stuck to mainly softball before coming back this season as a senior.

&uot;Because she got a big head &045; and you can quote me on that,&uot; Lady Bulldogs head coach Mary Irving said.

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Simply put, the veteran coach said. And it’s Irving, of all people, who should know, being that she has coached since 1969, when she took over the program at Newellton. Perhaps Green just had some growing up to do last year and is back playing on the hardwood a little more humble.

&uot;You can say that,&uot; Green said. &uot;I really wanted to play, but I said I’ll come back this year.&uot;

Simply put, particularly this year for the Lady Bulldogs after losing a core of talent last year including guards Gloria Lewis and Karmethia Mazique. It’s a rebuilding year of sorts for the Lady Bulldogs with new guards, a new starting post player and a team chemistry that’s still in the development stages.

The Lady Bulldogs open Division 6-5A tonight against Vicksburg. Others will tip off league action tonight in the Miss-Lou with Parklane at Adams Christian, Huntington at Trinity, St. Aloysius at Cathedral, Port Gibson at Jefferson County, WCCA at Ben’s Ford and Franklin County at Wilkinson County.

Non-district games tonight are Ferriday at Newellton, Central Private at Centreville, Winnsboro at Vidalia and Monterey at Bethel Christian.

&uot;We’re working on (our chemistry), but we’re bringing it together,&uot; Irving said. &uot;I have three seniors and about seven juniors. The scores in the games we lost don’t indicate the type of team we have. I think in the middle of the season we’re going to be seeing a difference. But that’s basically what we’re looking at &045; being patient and taking our time moving the ball.&uot;

It’s a process even for Green, who is in the guard rotation now playing at either point or the two guard. After not playing for a season, there’s just some things that stick with you &045; like riding a bicycle.

Then there are other things that don’t &045; like riding a unicyle on slick pavement.

&uot;It took me a while,&uot; Green said. &uot;I was behind, but I’m feeling better right now. (The first practice) was running, working hard and getting back in shape.&uot;

And at this point, Green’s adjustments are in large part the team’s adjustments as well.

Said Irving: &uot;I think (she) makes a difference. We have several players that haven’t gotten to the point of being the point guard. I think that’s one of our top issues. We have several promising ball handlers, but that point guard is not the thing you can walk in on easily. I think it’s a matter of her feeling herself out on the floor, knowing when to slow down and when to pick up.&uot;

The guard play is so important in withstanding a full-court press, but it’s doubly important for the Lady Bulldogs in establishing an inside game with an improving Sherika Hargraves at center. The 6-4 senior playing sparingly last season behind Crystal Brown, but so far she’s shown improvement &045; like the night she threw in 18 at Amite County on Nov. 18.

&uot;She’s improved a whole lot,&uot; Green said. &uot;The only thing she needs to work on is rebounding and posting up for the ball. She’s come a long way. She said she was ready for that (Amite County) game and was ready to play. She proved it, too. If only we can get her like that every game.&uot;

Parklane at Adams Christian

The Lady Rebels may face the tallest odds of anyone in the Miss-Lou in the talent-saturated MPSA 2-AAA, but you won’t hear them making any excuses about it.

They don’t have the size of Parklane, Central Private, Jackson Prep or Copiah, but the Lady Rebels think they have seniors who can match up fine with anybody and do well.

Tonight’s district lid-lifter could provide an indication.

&uot;I think we’re coming together as a team,&uot; ACCS head coach Bruce Pickle said. &uot;We played pretty well the other night against Tensas. We beat them by one, but they’re pretty good &045; and over there they’re even better. I believe we can beat anybody on any given night, and I think my girls do, too. That’s half the battle to me &045; believing we can win.&uot;

The Lady Rebels are shooting for a better run through the district this year than last year’s 3-9 mark in district. Part of their hopes are resting on the shoulders of post player April Boyd, who isn’t the tallest player in the district but has strong enough post moves to make opponents respect their inside game.

&uot;She’s constantly improving,&uot; Pickle said. &uot;I think April is a better player this year than she was in the past. She’s getting to play more minutes because her stamina is a lot better. She’s got our best post moves, no doubt.&uot;

St. Aloysius at Cathedral

Apparently there’s no such thing as a quiet meeting between these two schools. The Lady Wave struggled through its 2002-03 season, but its win over the Lady Flashes at the end of the season was all the positive necessary heading into this season.

Now the two square off tonight to start Region 7-1A action as Cathedral likes its progress so far this season.

&uot;The girls are really excited about this game,&uot; CHS coach Erin Binns said. &uot;I mean, St. Al and Cathedral is a big game in all sports, I think. We’re playing better every game.&uot;

Ferriday at Newellton

Lady Trojans head coach Lisa Abron is still adjusting to this setup five games into the season. No Monique Jones to build a team around. No speedy LaShawnda Pryor at point. No bucketload of senior leadership to lean on.

And when the Lady Trojans lost to Davidson &045; a team that waxed repeatedly last season &045; last week 45-41, it just drove home a point: the Lady Trojans are young.

&uot;We just had some breakdowns over the course of the game where we didn’t play well defensively,&uot; Abron said. &uot;I’m not setting any high expectations on them. It’s kind of a learning process. This is all new to me.&uot;