By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The 2012-13 season was historic for the Munford Lady Cougars.
Led by the veteran group of Shaliyah Wiggins, Alex Turner, Lauren Zvolanek and Region 7-3A MVP Robneisha “Bird” Lee, the Lady Cougars won 27 games on their way to their first appearance in Sub-State. Although the Central Lady Warriors brought the special year to an end in Sectionals, the Class of 2013 left a legacy of what experience and chemistry can do for a program.
Now on the brink of a new season, Head Coach Steve Poindexter is challenging the 2013-14 Lady Cougars to keep the winning ways going.
“I think we have some young ladies who are eager to prove that they’re ready to play,” he said. “I think we’ll really see the importance of the chemistry you have on the floor and the experience you have. Last year I think a lot of success was due to the experience that group had playing together. They played really well together.
“This group here, player for player, our top seven or eight players are more talented that the top seven or eight we had last year,” Poindexter acknowledged. “But once again, are they going to have the great chemistry we had last year? And obvisously the only way you can gain experience is game by game.”
Returning players like Kierra Richardson, Lindsey Owen and Precious Mills played key roles in the 27-6 season. Now there will be some of the players stepping up to the spots vacated by the graduated class.
“They were all really important parts of our team last year,” Poindexter noted. “ But as for the newspapers and publicity, they didn’t get a lot of attention. But as a coach, I knew how important they were to our success last year. This year they’re going to have to take on different roles. And we’re going to need people to do what they did last year and come off the bench and give us a spark.”
Running the show most of the time last season was guard Kierra Webb. Now a senior leader, Webb will be counted on for direct leadership on and off the court.
The preseason has been a challenge for Webb rehabbing a knee injury. She has been cleared to play and will work herself back into playing shape throughout November.
“If we stay healthy, I think by the end of the year, by February, we’re going to be a very dangerous team,” Poindexter said. “But like any team we have to go through that process game by game.”
Poindexter said he is comfortable with his team’s talent level but only time will help his players gain experience and build chemistry.
The Lady Cougars will be the hunted by teams like Dyer County, Hardin County and Brighton in District 13-3A. And as the defending Region 7-3A champions, Munford is on the radar of foes like Millington, Arlington, Bolton, Bartlett, Cordova and Kingsbury.
Poindexter said his freshman group has to step up in the roles that Mills, Richardson and Owen used to fill. And he noted all the Lady Cougars have to desire to continue the winning tradition as two-time defending district champs.
“If we don’t win this district again, it’s on their shoulder,” he said. “ So its a totally different responsibility. Do I think they’re ready for that challenge. I think they are. Again, you can’t flip a switch and have two years of experience as a starter. You have to play those games.
“We have a team full of people who have very little to no experience starting those games at the varsity level besides our point guard,” he concluded. “We’re going to only gain that experience one game at a time. You can’t fast forward that. It’s going to be a process.”