Learning the hard way: Avoyelles proves too much for Vidalia’s youthful squad
Published 12:24 am Saturday, January 23, 2016
By REED DESALVO
The Natchez Democrat
The first-year coach turned about to correct.
Email newsletter signup
Avoyelles stormed out to a 15-5 first-quarter advantage and never looked back, topping Vidalia 67-28 in District 3-3A action.
“It’s rough because, I’m playing with freshman and first-year players,” West said. “Even the upperclassmen didn’t play much the last two years.”
Additionally, West and the Lady Vikings (7-14, 1-7) were without two of their top players in do-it-all forward Bre’Honor Harris and senior Bri’anna Tolliver, who both were out due to injury.
“They got hurt (against Buckeye on Jan. 15) in the same game,” West said. “Tolliver has a possible ACL (tear), and Harris has a broken hand and just had surgery. And then I had another starter that’s no longer with the team, and that hurt us a lot.”
The loss of Harris and Tolliver showed as other Vikings players were put in positions they weren’t yet comfortable in, and committed a number of turnovers that led to a flurry of baskets for the Lady Mustangs (12-9, 6-2).
“We have to continue to make the practices game-like,” West said. “We have to allow them to play under pressure, but at the same time, you’re dealing with nerves. No matter what we draw up or what we say, they’re still young.”
West said it’s a challenge attempting to find the right combination of players to maximize the talent on the floor.
“It’s extremely tough, because I’m still teaching fundamentals,” she said. “And we’re playing against a team that is trying to win a district championship. The girls are playing hard, and they’re doing what I asked, but they’re just extremely inexperienced.”
Avoyelles led at the half 27-10, then began the third quarter with a 9-0 before extending its lead to 46-12 midway through the period. The Lady Mustangs led at the end of the third quarter 56-21.
“I’m the type of coach that believes when this happens, you need to be ready,” she said. “I have to make sure this never happens again. From this day forward, everyone needs to be able to step up and contribute.”
Shay Thomas led the Lady Vikings with nine points.
Oprah McGee and Tykalon Jacobs led Avoyelles with 13 points apiece.
Vidalia will attempt to reverse its fortune Tuesday when it hosts Jena High School.
“We’re going to game plan, and it’s testing the heart of the person to see how much they want it,” West said. “We’ll just have to see (how they respond).”