Natchez on upswing, but must wait for next game

Published 1:30 am Thursday, January 14, 2010

NATCHEZ — While the Natchez High School varsity boys basketball team is currently on an upswing in its season, its next test has been put on hold for now.

The Bulldogs’ big Region 6-6A matchup with Wingfield that was scheduled for Friday has been postponed, Natchez assistant coach David Haywood said.

“All the schools in Jackson are out until Tuesday,” Haywood said. “The cold weather caused a bunch of pipes to burst up there.

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“I think school will be back in session at Wingfield next Tuesday. I have no idea about when a makeup game will happen, but it has to, because it’s a district game.”

Although Natchez (11-8 overall) sits 1-3 in the regional play, the current landscape in the region still gives the Bulldogs a fighting chance to grab the No. 1 seed in the district tournament, Haywood said.

“(The game against Wingfield) is going to be a pretty big game for us. We lost to them the first time by two points, so if we can go on the road and win by three or more points, that will give us a tiebreaker and have us in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed in the tournament.

“In a sense, all of the teams in our district are even keel. It’s just a matter of whichever team is playing the best that particular night.

“We only lost to Jim Hill and Wingfield the first time by two or three points. Terry beat us the first time by three points, and then we beat them by (23) points, so we’d have the tiebreaker over (Terry).”

After starting the season 4-7, the Bulldogs have gotten on a bit of a roll by winning their most recent three games. Haywood credits the team’s improved defensive play as the major reason his players have stepped up these last few games.

“I tell my guys all the time, with the offense, we’re going to get plenty of shots and good looks,” Haywood said. “We have to be constant every night on defense. Some nights you’re going to be on with the offense, other nights you’re not. That’s why your defense has to be a constant. If you play hard and are focused every night, you’re going to give yourself a chance to win.”

Haywood also acknowledged that most teams they face would have a size advantage on the Bulldogs, which requires Natchez to be intense on defense all the more.

“They way to counter that is, you have to turn up the pressure on defense. Make the bigger guys get from one end of the court to the other by running the press. You can’t just allow them to come up to half court and dump it in to their post players.”

Running the press an entire game means the Bulldogs will have to rely on the bench to help maintain pressure, and Haywood said his role players have to understand that if they want to get playing time.

“I don’t expect them to come in and light up the scoreboard, but I don’t expect them to come in and fold on defense either,” Haywood said.

“I expect that same kind of effort that my starters give, because like I said, that defense has to be there every night for us to win.”