By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Rematches are a good way to measure progression in a season.
On Nov. 17, Steve Poindexter’s Munford Lady Cougars traveled to Haywood and edged out the Lady Tomcats 46-41.
“Kierra Richardson didn’t play that game,” Poindexter noted. “She was injured. In the first game we also turned over the ball 23 times. I don’t know what our turnovers were tonight. But I doubt it’s going to be anywhere near 23 times.
“We just didn’t handle the ball well,” he added. “Offensively, I think we’re starting to gel more. We’re in our 11th game, offensively with our girls inside we’re starting to take a direction I like.”
The inside forces Poindexter employed were senior Lindsey Owen and freshman Gabby Crawford in the rematch Dec. 9 in the Munford Gymnasium. And the duo paced Munford to a 57-43 victory over Haywood.
Owen was the standout in the first quarter with guards Phenicia Howard and Richardson locating in the post for lay-ups. Crawford hit a layup late in the opening quarter to make the score 12-6.
Munford was ahead 12-10 heading into the second quarter. Crawford made a couple of buckets early in the second quarter including an explosive drive to the rim to make the score 18-13.
The Lady Cougars went ahead 22-13 with a Richardson lay-up and Richardson hitting Owen in the low block for a lay in.
The Lady Tomcats responded with a 11-3 run to close out the first half. Haywood freshman Kelsey Shutes had the hot hand in that run hitting shots on second-chance opportunities.
“A lot of their scoring in the first half and even some in the second half were on put backs,” Poindexter noted. “Or we were fouling them on the rebounds sending them to the line. We played pretty good defense throughout the possession, we just don’t finish the possession. That’s something we’re working on.”
Haywood only trailed 25-24 at halftime. The Lady Tomcats grabbed a quick 26-24 lead in the third quarter. And the game was tied at 29-29 before Munford finished the quarter on a 14-7 run.
Owen made a hook shot and Crawford nailed a turnaround jumper during the rally. Other Lady Cougars like Shania Johnson, Johnna Jones and Richardson scored to build the 44-36 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Then it was time for “The Phenicia Howard Show.” The senior guard scored 7 of her 9 points in the fourth quarter to put Munford ahead 55-41. Howard made free throws, hit a jumper and drove to the rim for a layup.
Howard’s back-court mate Richardson also added 9 points in the contest. Owen led Munford with 15 points and Crawford contributed 13. Shutes led the way for Haywood with a game-high 20 points.
In less than a month, Poindexter said he saw his team taking steps in a positive direction.
“We’re 11 games in and we haven’t perfected anything by any means,” she said. “We had a few girls who were sick.
“But what I told them in there, ‘What good teams do, even when you’re not feeling good? Or things are not necessarily going your way? They dig down deep and find a way to win,’” he concluded. “I thought in the second half our kids were just tougher than kids. That was the difference in the second game.”