Natchez girls to take on Hattiesburg Friday

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 19, 2009

NATCHEZ — The Natchez High girls may have won the MHSAA District 6-5A Tournament last week, but the basketball team is still looking for revenge.

The Lady Bulldogs will get that chance Friday against Hattiesburg in the semifinals of the MHSAA Class 5A South State Tournament at Harrison Central.

The Lady Tigers ousted Natchez High in the tournament this past season and took a game from the Lady Bulldogs in December.

Email newsletter signup

Natchez was leading by 7 points at halftime but was outscored 27-11 in the third quarter en route to a 66-57 loss.

“I remember that we were just making a lot of mistakes that we shouldn’t have made,” Natchez coach Sue Johnson said. “It’s the same thing with us all the time. A lot of times we put ourselves in the predicaments that we are in. We know we can beat this team. All we have to do is execute, just get out there and do it.”

The Lady Bulldogs were also without Alia Frank in that game. The key starter was still recovering from knee surgery.

But now Natchez has the momentum against the Division 5 runner-up, even though Johnson still considers her team inexperienced.

Even though there are six juniors on the team and three seniors, Johnson said the amount of seniors on last year’s team means many of the juniors are just now getting major playing time.

“Our hard work and our hustle are getting us where we need to be,” she said. “A lot of people have more talent than we have. But hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

“And you got to look at the chemistry. When it’s clicking, it’s clicking.”

And Johnson said it’s definitely clicking now. Keosha Bradley was named the division tournament Most Valuable Player after the Lady Bulldogs’ win against Jim Hill, and Johnson said Frank played well enough to deserve the title as well.

“Keosha just happened to be the pilot — she was everything on the floor,” Johnson said. “She did what she needed to do for the win.”

And Natchez will use those honors and strong performances to retaliate against the Lady Tigers at 8 p.m. Friday.

If Natchez wins, it seals a spot to the state tournament in Jackson next week.

If they lose, the Lady Bulldogs still have a shot at a tournament berth by winning the consolation game, but Johnson said she doesn’t even want to think about that.

“We want this game. We’ve been wanting Hattiesburg,” she said. “We gave it away to them in the game over Christmas break. So we asked for it, and we got it. Now I’m going to see what they do with it.”