Natchez High takes on Murrah in state tournament

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 26, 2009

NATCHEZ — The Natchez High Lady Bulldogs are going into some unfamiliar territory tonight when they take on Murrah in the first round of the State Tournament at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.

But that doesn’t mean they are lacking for confidence.

“I feel like we’re going to win it all,” senior guard Keosha Bradley said. “We’ve worked hard to get to state and coach (Sue) Johnson told us if we ever made it in, we’d win it all.”

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Natchez High is only three victories away from a state championship and begins its quest at 6:30 p.m. against a Lady Mustang opponent Johnson is very familiar with.

Johnson graduated from Murrah and was an assistant coach there for a year. However, that all goes out the window tonight.

“They’re going to come after us, and we’re going to go after them,” Johnson said. “If we play our game, it’s going to be a good one.”

Johnson said the Lady Bulldogs must defend Murrah’s perimeter players if they want to advance in the tournament.

“They’ve got a couple of good 3-point shooters,” Johnson said. “They shoot the ball really well, and they’ve also got a couple of post players who hit the boards well.”

Johnson said the game will come down to Natchez keeping its composure and playing its game.

“We have to do our basic fundamentals,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to box out, rebound and hit our free throws. If we can do all the little things, we’ll be alright. We’ve prepared as best we can.”

Johnson changed up Natchez’s practice routine on Wednesday preparation for tonight’s game.

Instead of practicing at the Natchez High gym, the team traveled up to Alcorn State to practice in the Whitney Complex, which is more similar to the Mississippi Coliseum.

“We needed to get used to a bigger gym and a platform floor and no wall being behind the basket,” Johnson said. “It’s not exactly like the Coliseum, but it’s the best we’ve got. I do thank the Alcorn administration for letting us use their gym.”

Tonight’s game is the first step of a three-game run to a possible state championship.

The Lady Bulldogs are the No. 3 seed from the South, while Murrah is the No. 2 seed from the North.

Top seeds from the North and South received byes to the semifinals and should the Lady Bulldogs win tonight, they would take on Harrison Central, the No. 1 seed from the South, in the semifinals on March 4.

But while bringing home the gold ball is the ultimate goal, the Lady Bulldogs know it is an honor to have advanced as far as they have.

“This is what we’ve all been shooting for all season,” senior Alia Frank said. “We’re so excited to make it to state. We’ve worked hard for it, and we deserve to be there. We’ve been gearing for it the entire season.”