Lady Bulldogs have had a roller coaster season
Published 12:00 am Monday, January 11, 2010
NATCHEZ — One season after making it to the MHSAA Class 5A State Tournament in Jackson, the Natchez High Lady Bulldogs have had an up-and-down start to the 2009-2010 season.
Natchez High is coming off back-to-back wins over Ferriday and Terry. In the victory over Terry, the Lady Bulldogs saw a big lead evaporate into a one-point deficit at the end of the third quarter before they rallied for a 49-46 win.
In fact, the 63-43 win over the Lady Trojans last Tuesday was the game that head coach Sue Johnson said has been the high point of the season so far.
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“That’s when Jasmine Belton showed what she really can do,” Johnson said. Belton, who is one of nine seniors on the Lady Bulldogs’ roster, scored a game-high 30 points in that game.
That gave the Lady Bulldogs a 10-8 record overall and a 3-1 record in Division 6-6A. Their lone loss in division play was at home to Jim Hill, 56-51, back on Dec. 11.
But this was a team that came into the season with high expectations, including being ranked in the top 10 in the Clarion-Ledger’s Super 10 girls basketball preseason poll and in the top five in the Class 6A preseason poll.
Yet inconsistency would be one way to describe how the first two months of the season went for the Lady Bulldogs. In a 59-44 loss to Vicksburg on Nov. 14 at the Vicksburg/Warren Central Tournament, the game was tied 25-25 at halftime until the Lady Bulldogs were outscored by the Missy Gators 25-2 in the third quarter.
In a stunning 52-44 loss to Brookhaven on Nov. 18, Natchez High scored just six points in the first quarter and seven points in the third quarter.
Johnson described the season so far as “Roller coaster. Up and down.” She said in order for the Lady Bulldogs to be a legitimate contender in not only division play but in Class 6A, they need to be more consistent, more aggressive and concentrate more on their shots. She noted that in all eight losses, turnovers have been a big concern.
“Without a doubt turnovers have been killing us. Every game we have lost, we gave it away. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. That’s where consistency comes in at. When we have a lead, quit acting like were behind.”
Johnson said her seniors and post players need to step up now if the Lady Bulldogs are to make a deep run in the postseason.
“If they step up their game, there’s no doubt the rest of the team will follow. Not one person is consistent,” she said. “I’ve got a bunch of seniors on the team – Keosha Bradley, Belton, Stacy Hutchins, Jasmine Payne, Janell Hayes, Jivanna Smith, Diamond Newman, Americia Dawson and Susan Hamilton. We need them to step up.”
Hamilton went down with a knee injury early in the season and there’s no timetable on her return.
Believe it or not, Johnson feels like the Lady Bulldogs should be 18-0 instead of its current 10-8 record. And that’s why she said the low point of the season is every game they gave away a lead in the fourth quarter.
“When I tell you we should be undefeated, I mean that from the bottom of my heart. But everything happens for a reason. Just made four or five turnovers in a row and they scored. We’ve got to take better care of the ball. We’re going to learn from our mistakes. 2010 is our year and we’re off to a good start.”
And Johnson added that there’s no doubt the Lady Bulldogs will be back in Jackson for the first-ever Class 6A state tournament.
“That’s our ultimate goal is to win it. We believe that we will be there,” Johnson said. “We’re going to get it together. We’re on a mission. I’m trusting in and leaning on the Lord to lead us back to Jackson because he is the leader of our lives.”