RLMS girls led by eighth graders

Published 12:01 am Thursday, January 26, 2012

NATCHEZ — The Robert Lewis Middle School girls’ basketball team had one characteristic that stood out this season and was able to give them an edge over their opponents.

When the game got tight in the fourth quarter and the Lady Bulldogs’ opponents began to breath harder and run out of steam, the Robert Lewis girls had that extra burst of energy available.

The Lady Bulldogs’ ability to outlast their opponents led them to a 17-1 record and a conference championship.

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“The girls played well this year,” assistant coach Bonita Hamilton said. “They practiced hard and were well-conditioned. (Conditioning) was the backbone of the team.”

After the team completed its one-loss regular season, it made its way through the conference tournament and defeated Port Gibson to bring home the conference title.

The Lady Bulldogs featured an experienced roster this season with nine eighth-graders on the squad. Hamilton said that experience also helped the Lady Bulldogs when it got down to crunch time.

“Most of them have been playing with us close to three years,” she said.

Ernesha Chatman was one of those experienced leaders for Robert Lewis. Hamilton said Chatman was a very strong point guard for the team this season.

Hamilton said the team also featured two versatile forwards in Zyaire Ewing and Skylar Morgan, who were assets all over the floor.

But even with talent and experience, much of the credit goes to head coach Willie Woods, Hamilton said.

“Coach Willie Woods is the most dedicated coach I’ve ever worked with in the last 10 years,” Hamilton said. “He’s very hard-working.”

The Robert Lewis girls’ team has a history of success and winning conference championships, Hamilton said, but this season the team’s success snuck up on her.

“I didn’t realize we had won all those games until really when the bracket came out for the seeding in the conference,” Hamilton said.

While the bulk of the team will move on to Natchez High School next season and look to continue its success at the high school level, there will still be some players left behind looking to repeat for Robert Lewis.

Hamilton said those six seventh graders would have to continue the hard work on and off the floor that this year’s team displayed in order to win another title next season.