Natchez Middle School basketball team excels

Published 11:21 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2019

NATCHEZ — Natchez Middle School’s football team wasn’t the only team to win consecutive conference championships in 2018. So was its basketball team.

The Bulldogs’ hoopsters went 16-1 overall and 8-0 in the Mississippi Southwest Conference, capping off their season with a win over Port Gibson in the tournament championship game on Saturday, Dec. 15 for their fifth straight conference title.

“It was a very unselfish team. They strived on playing great defense,” coach Rick Bellar said. “They got a lot of baskets on steals. Defense was really good. The kids shared the ball. They hustled. They were quick.”

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Bellar said there 18 players on the team and at the start of the season, everybody got a lot of playing time because he played several different lineups. But by the end of the regular season, he had his starting five set. And one of those players had never played basketball before this season.

“Trey Minor, he began the team on the borderline of making the cut. He was our quarterback on the football team. By the end of the season, he was in the starting lineup. They couldn’t take him out,” Bellar said. “I couldn’t believe how much progress he made in such a short period of time.”

Post player Elvis Jenkins was a force in the paint for the Bulldogs and led the team in rebounds.

“He’s a leaper. Has good quickness for his size to run the floor and handle the ball,” Bellar said.

Mike Williams was the team’s point guard and did an outstanding job running the offense.

“He did a great job distributing the basketball and setting up the offense,” Bellar said.

Kameron Carter was the team’s leading scorer as well as one of its top players in assists.

“He was just a great asset. He could create his own shot. He also had a lot of assists when he made a move to the basket. He would pass the ball to a teammate for a better shot. He’s a very unselfish player,” Bellar said.

As a two-way player, Terrell Penroe did it all on both ends of the court for the Bulldogs.

“He’s just an athlete. Played great defense. A lot of steals and made things happen,” Bellar said. “He was good taking the ball to the basket, creating his own shots.”

As for those who came off the bench, Bellar said, “A lot of players stepped up and did a great job. A lot of competition.”

As for how the 2018 Natchez Middle School Bulldogs compared to the conference title teams of the previous four season, Bellar said, “This team was very deep. We had a lot of players who could come off the bench and contribute. They had a winning attitude and refused to lose. They were tenacious on defense.”

Bellar noted that someone who is not on the court but on the sidelines with him has had a big hand in the recent success of this program – coach Cleveland Watts.

“Coach Watts is a great basketball mind. He and I have 87 combined years of coaching. He’s been with me the last four or five years. He’s always a step ahead. He does such a great job.”