Natchez girls top Vidalia, coaches look for growth

Published 12:59 am Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Natchez High Lady Bulldogs kept their record undefeated with a 44-20 win over Vidalia, but coach ShaRhonda Gipson said she could have seen better.

“We won, but I saw a lot of fundamental mental breakdowns. I saw too many missed free throws and layups,” the first-year Natchez coach said. “Those are nonnegotiable. No matter who we are playing or what the score is we still have to capitalize on those.”

Both teams came out to a slow start until Candi Gray sank a 3-pointer to put a spark in the Lady Bulldogs’ (3-0) offense.

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Kya Singleton then added two buckets off quick steals, one on an assist down the court from Aja Carter.

“I did see them assist and teamwork going on,” Gipson said. “They are learning each other.”

Vidalia (1-1) didn’t find its first set of points until more than halfway through the first quarter on a Kira Lutcher layup.

Lady Vikings’ assistant coach Gary Stewart said after the first score, he was pleased with his team’s effort in the first half.

“I’m not disappointed or upset with my team,” he said. “I really liked our first half. Everything about it, I really have no complaints. We played better than our last game, so that’s always good.”

Gray sank two additional 3-pointers before halftime to give the Lady Bulldogs a 30-14 lead at the break. She led Natchez in the win with 12 points.

While Gipson liked her team’s communication, it struggled again to begin the second half. The lack of focus, Gipson said, was caused by a dose of complacency.

“We weren’t scoring. We weren’t doing anything,” she said. “I really think they let the scoreboard get to them.”

Stewart agreed the Lady Vikings also had trouble in the second half, totaling just six points in the third and fourth quarters combined. Jayma Smith led Vidalia with 10 points.

Moving forward, both Gipson and Stewart said their players must work to continue their cohesiveness.

“We have to find a way to keep going — keep pushing,” Stewart said. “Right now we don’t understand that. It’s the hardest thing to work on. The best way is just to be hard on them in practice.”

“Mentally I still have to get them to understand the score doesn’t matter,” Gipson added.

Natchez is scheduled to host Jefferson County Thursday, while Vidalia will be back in action at the Tensas tournament also on Thursday.