By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The best way to prepare for February-style basketball is play some of the teams you might see during the postseason.
In recent years in District 13-3A Dyer County has been a force winning the league last season. And during that stretch, the Bartlett Lady Panthers have been a power in Region 7-3A.
The Munford Lady Cougars had those challenges awaiting them during the week of Jan. 19-22. Both Bartlett and Dyer County would make the trip to Tipton County for showdowns in the Munford Gymnasium.
First up was Bartlett Jan. 19. The Lady Cougars were up for the challenge taking a 17-12 lead after one quarter. Munford was even ahead 30-28 at the break.
Then the Lady Panthers used a solid defensive third quarter to take the lead and eventually prevailed 63-58.
“If you’re going to be beat good teams, you have to play 32 minutes,” Munford Head Coach Steve Poindexter said. “Defensively, I told our team, ‘If you’re giving up 63 points we’re not going to win.’ We have to hold teams in the 40s. That’s just where we are. We didn’t do a very good job of that.
“I thought offensively, that might be some of the worst basketball I’ve seen from us all year,” he added. “That was a horrible third quarter. There was no movement. We turned over the ball. We made bad decisions. There were a couple of bad shots. You name it, we did it wrong in the third quarter. When you’re playing a good team, you have to play four quarters.”
Munford’s first two quarters were productive on both ends. Behind a pair of Johnna Jones three-pointers the Lady Cougars jumped ahead 17-12 in the first quarter.
Then Munford sophomore forward Gabby Crawford paced her team with 8 points in the second quarter. Bartlett’s offense produced 16 points sparked by guard Dee Dee Williams in the period to make the deficit 2 at halftime.
The Lady Panthers swung the momentum in the third quarter with defense to take the lead. Williams and senior teammate Charity Salvage hit buckets during a 6-0 run giving Bartlett a 34-30 lead.
Both teams scored 8 points the rest of the period and Bartlett was ahead 42-38.
The Lady Panthers jumped ahead 55-45 midway through the fourth quarter. Jones hit a triple to make the score 55-48.
After that shot Poindexter had to employ his players to foul Bartlett ball handlers. But three of his key players Jones, Crawford and Shania Johnson were nursing four fouls.
Munford did produce 10 points down the stretch. Meanwhile the Lady Panthers hit enough free throws to win the game 63-58.
Now the Lady Cougars had to prepare for a league showdown with the Dyer County Lady Choctaws. Poindexter said he hopes his team is ready to put together 32 minutes of Munford Basketball.
“I think we’re very capable of doing it,” he said. “ I think it’s more of a mental thing than a physical thing. We’ve just got to stay focused, stay locked in and stay confident in what we’re doing.”
With a win over USJ on their resume’, Poindexter said his team has the ability to beat any team in Class 3A if his players stay intense and play sound basketball.
“Like I keep preaching and what we keep working on, you’ve got to play four quarters if you’re going to beat a good team,” he said. “There are some teams you can beat not playing four quarters. But you’re not going to beat Arlington playing two and half quarters. You’re not going to beat Bartlett playing two and half or three quarters.
“You’re not going to win Friday playing two to three and half good quarters,” Poindexter concluded. “Hopefully, we can forget about this but take responsibility for you’re doing wrong on the floor. Look in the mirror and take responsibility. And lets get back to work and try to get better.”
Snow in the area Friday postponed the game with Dyer County.