By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Things don’t always go as planned in life.
Entering the 2016-17 season, people expected the Munford Lady Cougars to take the court with a proven quintet of players. Shania “Maine Girl” Johnson, Johnna Jones, De’Asha Banks and Gabby Crawford made their regular season debut Nov. 15 in the Munford Gymnasium.
In attendance but in a knee brace was Dejanae Porter. Joining her on the bench nursing an injury to her ankle was Ally Gover. But Munford Head Coach Steve Poindexter didn’t let those setbacks spoil the plans for winning the first game of the season 52-35 over MHEA.
“We’ve got a couple of girls injured,” Poindexter noted. “The depth is definitely an issue. I told them on the bench before the game was over and this is what I’ve really been stressing with the situation we’re in, pace of the game is very important. And I think they did a great job of the pace of the game.
“In the second half we took advantage of some transition stuff,” he continued. “You’ve been walking the ball up all this time. If you get 6 to 8 points in transition that’s going to be big time. And we did get some points in transition and some layups. Pace of the game when you have 6 girls playing a majority of the minutes is very important. I think we controlled the pace.”
The pace was to the liking of the Lady Cougars with Johnson and Jones running point. With Kennisha Mason inserted into the lineup, things ran smooth for Munford jumping out to a 13-2 lead.
Mason drained a triple that made the score 9-0. A steal by Jones led to a layup making the tally 11-0. Munford was head 13-0 before MHEA scored.
MHEA had more offensive success in the second quarter with 12 points. The Lady Cougars kept pace with 13 points.
Crawford was located in the low post by guards taking advantage her size in the post. Jones concluded the first half scoring with a three-pointer to make the score 26-14.
Under Poindexter’s direction to seek fast break points, the Lady Cougars turned up the defensive pressure in the third quarter holding MHEA to 8 points. Meanwhile Munford got rolling with a Crawford three-point play in transition.
Moments later Crawford made a steal leading to a layup for a 33-18 lead. The Lady Cougars led 35-22 entering the fourth quarter.
In the final period, Lady Cougar Camryn Bruce got some minutes. She learned on the job from Johnson running the offense creating open three-point looks. Johnson hit two triples.
With MHEA guarding the perimeter tighter, Munford was able to hit players cutting to the rim for layups like Banks and Jones.
Mason ended the night with a three-pointer that made the final 52-35. Poindexter was pleased with the team’s overall performance and how his young duo executed.
“You could see the nerves out there,” he acknowledged. “But this is not a sprint. This is a marathon. It’s one game and early. As time goes on, I believe they will get more and more confident. They’re definitely threats out there. It’s just a matter of let me gather myself.
Both Mason and Bruce are really unselfish and they know their roles,” he added. “They’re going to give you everything they’ve got.”
Poindexter noted his more experienced players will perform even better as the season progresses.
“Conditioning is going to be a factor moving forward,” he said. “I think we’re going to get in better shape as we move forward. You can practice all you want but nothing is going to be you in game shape more than games. It’s just different. A crowd is here and you have to get used to it. You have to get yourself conditioned to play the amount of minutes we’re playing.”
With a new rotation, Poindexter said he will need all his players to give there all in games and practices to build cohesion.
“We’re trying play as putting the team ahead of ourselves,” he said. “I think we did that. We played very unselfish. There were some good passes and good cuts. There were flashes you could see, ‘Man their offense could be really good. They moved, set screens and they’re reading the defense.’
“It doesn’t look as good as it’s going to because the better shape we get into the better our offense is going to look,” he concluded.