By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Despite a 3-1 start to the season, there’s a disturbing trend developing for the Munford Lady Cougars.
Once again last Friday night in the William Osteen Gymnasium, Munford Head Coach Steve Poindexter watched his team build a nice lead only to see it slowly evaporate.
This time it was the Millington Lady Trojans trying to make the comeback against the Lady Cougars. Although Bruce Marshall’s Lady Trojans trimmed the deficit to 9 points in the fourth quarter, Munford held on to win 42-31.
“We’ve talked about this before, it’s going to be a matter of chemistry, toughness,” Poindexter noted. “We’re not very tough right now. And offensively, our chemistry isn’t very good. I don’t know what the stats are tonight, but I guarantee we got killed on the boards.
“I tell my team, ‘Tough teams finish out the possession,’” he added. “We’re not finish with a possession until you have the ball in your hands. We don’t have that sense of urgency on either side of the floor right now.”
In Munford’s season opener against MHEA, the Lady Cougars were ahead by 20 points late in the third quarter before losing the game. Against Ripley and Haywood, Munford build large leads to watch them dwindle down.
A similar script played out in Millington Friday when the Lady Cougars jumped ahead 14-5 after one quarter courtesy of shots from Phenicia Howard, Lindsey Owen, Shania Johnson and Johnna Jones.
Millington tried to keep pace throughout the first half getting inside players Glenda Garner and Tamia Aldridge touches in the paint. The duo did manage to grab several rebounds but couldn’t connect at a rate to keep the Munford lead for growing to 21-8.
Lady Cougar Gabby Crawford hit a jumper late in the first half to make the score 23-10 and Munford was ahead 23-11 at the break.
In the third quarter Munford came out hot with an 8-2 run. Howard drove to the rim for a score. Second later, the senior guard made a steal leading to a layup and a 27-13 lead.
Munford’s advantage grew when center Owen snatched a rebound and kissed the ball off the glass to make the score 29-13. Then Jones attacked the rim again driving to the basket for a layup and a 31-13 lead.
Garner stopped the Munford run with a jumper. Millington finished the quarter with a 9-4 rally to make the score 35-22.
The Lady Trojans outscored Munford 9-5 throughout the first 6 minutes of the fourth quarter. Jherika Brown’s free throw made the score 40-31 with a minute and 50 seconds left.
“It’s hard to watch because we have the potential to be a really good team,” Poindexter said. “We have the ingredients. We just haven’t had that hunger. At least it doesn’t look like we do. We’ve got to find that.
But the Lady Cougars locked down on defense and a Jones to Crawford layup ended the game 42-31. Although Munford left Flag City with a win, Poindexter felt his team is stuck in neutral when it comes to living up to its potential.
“I can teach them all types of things, but the one thing they’re lacking I can’t teach,” he said. “I can’t teach them heart and that aggressive nature. That’s something you have inside you or you don’t.
“That’s self-motivation,” Poindexter continued. “I’m motivated for this team. But my motivation can only go so far. You’ve got to have something within you. You have to have that hunger and that desire. A coach can’t give that to you. I can direct them and teach them.”
Poindexter said the 3-1 record proved the Lady Cougars are talented. But if the urgency and passion accompanies the natural skills, the Lady Cougars could be a banner squad.
“Nobody wants our team to be successful more than me,” he concluded. “I love these kids. But it’s hard because I can’t teach that. I’m going to continue to push them and work with them. Hopefully as the season goes along, we’ll gradually build that. If we do, we’ll be a team that can compete come tournament time. If we don’t, I don’t know what we’ll be.”