Tomorrow’s Stars: Lewis, Coley making strides to lead Green Wave teams
Editor’s note: Tomorrow’s Stars is a series featuring bright up-and-coming athletes and their journey to becoming the team’s future star player. The Natchez Democrat’s sports staff selected each team’s representatives.
NATCHEZ — Cathedral’s Marty Lewis and James Coley have had their patience tested this season on the basketball court.
For Lewis, an injury that sidelined her for weeks. And for Coley, his coach giving him the brutal truth.
But both passed the test and have Cathedral on a roll heading into the playoffs.
Lewis went down in the Lady Wave’s third game of the year, and head coach Randy Smith said it was a major blow to the team.
“It was devastating for us when she got hurt in the third game,” Smith said. “She had already gotten a lot of points and is very basketball smart, so that made a big difference.”
Lewis also took the news hard.
“It was hard for me to have to sit out,” she said. “I love watching the team play, but I just wished that I was out there with them.”
Although she isn’t back to 100 percent, Lewis is taking the floor for the Lady Wave and is a big reason why they are on a roll heading into the district tournament.
“She can come off the bench and know when to rebound, play the middle of the press, dribble against pressure and that makes a big difference,” Smith said. “I think the other girls just feed off of her, too. She can add another dimension to what we are going to do on offense and defense.”
Just a sophomore, Lewis knows the load will continue to fall on her for years to come, especially with a senior heavy team finishing this season.
“I was anticipating that,” she said. “I started two or three games before I got hurt, so I knew it was coming, but I think it’ll be all right.”
Coley, who is a junior, is known for being one of the biggest talkers in school. But it was a lesson he learned from listening, that has helped him jumpstart his season after a slow start.
“I got onto him at Christmas because, oddly enough, he was 215 pounds during football and he is 228 pounds now,” head coach Peter Arnold said. “I told him, ‘This is absurd, you can’t do that.’ We had a conversation and I told him, ‘You are not as good of an athlete right now as you were a year ago.’ He didn’t like to hear that, but it was the truth, and he has been convinced and dedicated since then.”
Coley’s numbers have proved that, and he is a threat to record a double-double every night.
“When it is a big game, James shows up,” Arnold said. “He is getting us the points, the rebounds and he is also a huge decoy with a big bullseye on him.”
The target will become ever larger next season, with Cathedral losing three starters to graduation, but Coley knows what to expect.
“The pressure is definitely going to fall on me and Jardarius (Anderson),” he said. “Next year is going to be different. I like playing with Alex (Weadock), RJ (Givens) and Wyatt (Boothe). I’m more comfortable on the court with them. It is going to be hard, but I think we need to make the best out of this season and worry about that next year.”
At 6-foot-4, Coley towers over most of Cathedral’s competition, and when he takes the floor, he is an immediate intimidation factor.
“James has that big hulking structure compared to most everybody that we are playing,” Arnold said. “It is intimidating. He’s that big center that every team wants in 1A basketball, and very few teams have. You just don’t see many 6-foot-4, 230 pound kids that can run and have enough agility and athleticism to play basketball at a decent level.”
Although the Green Wave may not sit atop the rankings, Coley believes that this year’s team has what it takes to make a run in the playoffs.
“If we play how we are supposed to, we can compete with anyone in 1A, and a couple of people in 2A and 3A,” Coley said. “I want to win district. I want to beat Pelahatchie. I know we can beat them. And I really want to go to the state playoffs and the Colosseum. I think we have a good shot.”