By Thomas Sellers Jr.
There was no Thanksgiving hangover for the Munford Lady Cougars.
As host of the Munford Thanksgiving Classic the past Friday and Saturday, the Lady Cougars opened up festivities at 1 p.m. Friday in the Munford Gymnasium against area power the Memphis Central Lady Warriors. With some spectators still chatting about the previous day’s food and needing a nap, Steve Poindexter’s Munford squad played with energy, awareness and as a cohesive unit to win 74-47. The blowout was sparked by a 30-point second quarter featuring Lady Cougar center Lindsey Owen dominating in the post and her teammate Kierra Richardson hitting three triples in a row.
“That might have been the best quarter we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Poindexter said. “We made 15 points off threes. We were scoring both (inside and outside), it wasn’t like one started and then the other. It was balanced.
“They made good decisions passing the ball to the right person,” he continued. “Everything offensively, this was the best we played as far as not turning the ball over, running our offense, getting swings, interior passes were good, spotting up and shooting was great. We put it all together. I got to see a little glimpse of what they’re capable of.”
Losing recent match ups against Central, the Lady Cougars came out with a purpose. After a solid first quarter paced by point guard Phenicia Howard, her fellow seniors Owen and Richardson caught fire. Richardson hit 3 of 5 triples for Munford in the second quarter as part of her 14 points. With Lady Cougars like Alex Wherry, Shania Johnson and Johnna Jones running the offense smoothly, Owen got the ball in good positions to operate scoring several of her 17 points before halftime. Central was within shouting distance at the break, but the Lady Cougars made some adjustments on defense.
“I don’t think we did a great job defensively of keeping them out of the lane,” Poindexter acknowledged. “That’s something that we pride ourselves on, we’re going to pressure the ball to keep you out of the lane. We didn’t do a great job of that. We did a better job in the second half. The first half it was not very good at all.
“Overall this was our most complete game chemistrywise,” he added. “By far the best game, so we’re showing improvements in that area. Our chemistry and our toughness, we handled the ball under pressure they threw at us at the beginning of the game.”
Howard and her backcourt mates handled the Lady Warrior defense to score double digits in all quarters. Howard used her shooting from behind the arch and driving to the basket to tally 15 points in the contest. The Munford guard played solid scoring from the perimeter. In the paint, Owen was joined by her freshman teammate Gabby Crawford dominating the Central post players. Crawford had a game-high 18 points in the winning effort.
“She won’t be 15 years old until March,” Poindexter noted. “That’s a young girl in a grown woman’s body. She’s still a 14-year old. As athletic as she is, her upside is unbelievable. But she has taken strides and catching on with big chunks at a time. She’s settling in and doing a much better job.
Everybody else around her is doing as well,” he continued. “It’s great to have someone that young come in, and performance at that kind of level. But if she had to talk about about, she’ll give credit to the strengths around her giving her an opportunity to do.”
Poindexter said the effort he saw from his team Friday night prove they have the chemistry and toughness to be one of the best teams in the state.
“They picked us up full court and we didn’t turn the ball over,” he concluded. “We were patient on offense and got the ball inside to get some easy baskets. As far as balance goes with inside and out, that was by far the most balanced we’ve been and the best we’ve looked.”