By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Maybe Brighton Head Coach David Wampler and the Lady Cardinals want to move to the William Osteen Gymnasium.
Entering last Thursday night’s championship game of the 2016 William L. Osteen Christmas Tournament sponsored by Dagen’s Living Water Bookstore, the Lady Cardinals were 3-0 in the home of the Trojans.
Brighton defeated the Millington Lady Trojans earlier in the season and during the Christmas Tournament the Lady Cardinals took down Memphis Catholic and Millington in the rematch.
Brighton’s 59-56 win over Catholic and 62-17 outcome over Millington set up a championship game date with the Ridgeway Lady Roadrunners.
Ridgeway proved why they are one of the best teams in the State winning 56-29 led by tournament MVP Elizabeth Dixson.
“I think that girl is ranked No. 20 in the nation as for juniors,” Wampler said. “I have a team full of underclassmen. I got three seniors who really never have played. So when you’re talking about upperclassmen, they really don’t have any experience.
“But we play hard,” he added. “We play hard from start to finish. We don’t always play pretty. We don’t execute sometimes but we play hard. A lot of time effort and attitude would make up for your lack of ball skills, execution or experience. Our effort is going to makeup for those things.”
Brighton’s effort was on full display in the first two game of the tournament. In the semifinal round the Lady Cardinals took down co-host Millington 62-17 led by Aubree Jones’ 11 points.
All-Tournament selection MG Smith added 10 points.
Brighton reached the semifinals by coming back to beat Catholic.
“They are starting to buy into those things,” Wampler said. “Defensively we’re improving everyday. When you’re young and inexperience, your struggles are going to be on offense. That’s where we struggle especially against better competition.
“Started the fourth quarter down 9 points against Catholic,” he continued. “We won the fourth quarter 24-12. That was a great step in battling and coming back to get a big win. Last night we played Millington and took care of our business.”
Taliyah Brown was one of four Lady Cardinals to reach double figures in the scoring column against the Lady Chargers. Brown had 12 points.
Jones reached double digits with 10 points and fellow senior Lindsay Morrissett contributed 11 points. Smith was the standout in the post with 18 points in the victory over Catholic.
In the title game the post play of Ridgeway dominated the night. Lady Roadrunners Dixson, Takesia Barnee, Fatimah Wells and Jamilla Hamlett all scored in helping Ridgeway take a 14-0 lead.
Ridgeway led 19-4 after one quarter. Dixson dominated the boards and paint in the second quarter as Ridgeway jumped ahead 34-13 at halftime.
Tonight I think we took a step back,” Wampler acknowledged. “I knew they were good and we would have to play our best game.
“But we started out kind of intimidated by their height,” he concluded. “And instead of doing what we do, That’s part of the process of growing up and maturing into a good basketball team.”