Lady Bulldogs put stamp on No. 6 Pearl River Central at home
NATCHEZ — Alphaka Moore and the Natchez High Lady Bulldogs continued to do what they do best Friday night — win.
Natchez improved to 7-0 on the year and also gained their first win in district 6-5A with a 60-42 pounding of Pearl River Central.
“It was a good win,” Natchez head coach Alphaka Moore said. “I saw some things we need to work on, but overall, they did a good job.”
The Lady Bulldogs jumped all over the Lady Blue Devils early taking a 32-10 lead after just the first quarter of play.
Skylar Morgan led Natchez with 11 points in the quarter, while Zyaire Ewing added nine of her own.
“We pressed a lot in the first half, so we were able to get a lot of quick shots,” Moore said. “After that, we kind of sagged back in half court and started working on our half-court defense.”
While sliding back may have slowed down some of the offensive production for the Lady Bulldogs, their defense was thriving, holding Pearl River Central to just 22 points after three quarters of play.
Moore was also able to rotate in plenty of bodies, which is something she said was good and will help Natchez as the season progresses.
“We are playing a really good team next week in the Christmas tournament,” Moore said. “So it was good for us to see those girls come off the bench and see how well they work. We are trying to figure out where everybody can go, because at certain points in the season, you are going to have to start moving people around.”
Ewing finished as the leading scorer for the Lady Bulldogs with 13 points, with Morgan finishing close behind with 11. Rashonae Rice and Destiny Lyles added nine and eight points of their own, respectively.
Natchez will travel to Hattiesburg for a tough test in the Christmas tournament, beginning with St. Martin.
“There are going to be three ranked teams there,” Moore said. “We are No. 1, and Hattiesburg and Brandon are ranked in the top 10 in Mississippi. There is also St. Martin, who is our first game on Dec. 27, and they have a really good team. It is going to be a tough first game for us.”
Natchez (boys) 64, Pearl River Central 38
Two players, two halves and a win for the Natchez High Bulldogs.
Daryl Jones dropped 19 of his 21 points in the first half, while Micheal Morris scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half to lead the Bulldogs to a 64-38 win Both teams started slow, but Natchez assistant coach David Haywood wasn’t too worried.
“Pearl River is a good team,” he said. “It was a defensive struggle at the beginning. They had some shots that they missed and we had some that we missed early on. I think the teams were just trying to get a feel for one another.”
Jones was able to get a feel for the Blue Devils eventually, and exploded on a scoring streak to push Natchez ahead.
“Daryl is a very smart player,” Haywood said. “I think his teammates helped him out tonight and he’ll be the first to tell you that.”
Natchez turned up the heat on defense in the second half, outscoring the Blue Devils 32-13.
“We came into the locker room at halftime and coach got into us,” Morris said. “We had to come out and improve and keep No. 21 away from the goal. We knew any time a guard got there, they were just going to lob it up over us.”
Morris took over the paint in the second half, and added a dunk that brought the Natchez crowd to its feet.
“This is my first one besides a camp or something,” Morris said. “It is exciting. I felt the energy and felt the crowd. I fed off of them. I knew I was going to get it. I told DJ that I was going to get them back. We all gotta’ eat.”
The Bulldogs will now turn their attention to the Sunkist Shootout, a tournament hosted by St. Thomas Moore in Lafayette. Natchez’s first game will be against St. Augustine Dec. 26 at 4 p.m.
“It feels good to win heading into the tournament,” Haywood said. “They’ll get a couple days off, get their bodies back running and go down to a good tournament in Lafayette and see some good competition.”