By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Munford Lady Cougars have a fresh look and fresh mindset entering the 2018-19 basketball season.
The new-look squad of Steve Poindexter entered Nov. 19 with a 1-1 record lead by a 28- and 25-point efforts from Aliyah Lee. Welcoming the Southaven Lady Chargers to the Munford Gymnasium, the youthful Lady Cougars led by seniors Lee and Camryn Bruce kept the contest close tied at 28-28 in the third quarter.
The Lady Chargers couldn’t stop Lee as she poured in 25 points on the night. But Southaven outlasted the Lady Cougars on the overall scoreboard to prevail 40-38.
“If you know our team and look out there, you can see we have plenty of new faces,” Poindexter noted. “If they’re are not new, seeing them out there on the floor is new. I’m proud of this group.
“They come in and work hard everyday,” he continued. “We have no attitude issues — nothing like that. Obviously we have a lot to improve on but the effort they give they are coachable. I think they keep getting better and better.”
The Lady Cougars displayed their new attitude and growth erasing a 34-29 deficit entering the fourth quarter. Munford’s Mary Richardson drive to the rim for a layup to cut the Southaven lead to three points.
With the score 36-31, Lee went to work in the post making a bucket. Later the Lady Cougars trimmed the Lady Charger advantage to 36-35. A pair of Southaven free throws grew the lead back to a triple. Bruce came to the rescue for the Lady Cougars hitting a three-pointer to deadlock the game at 38-38.
Down the stretch, the Lady Cougars’ defense neutralized Southaven’s attack. The Lady Chargers still managed to get a couple of foul shots from Avi Winston to travel back to the Magnolia State 40-38 victors.
“We had shots to win the game,” Poindexter said. “We just didn’t make them. Sometimes they just don’t go in. We had multiple opportunities to win this game. I’ve got a locker room full of people who are ticked off. Like I told them, ‘That’s what happens before you start winning. That lets me know that you’ll do what it takes to win.’”
The Lady Cougars’ game plan for success in 2018-19 is working from the inside to the outside. Poindexter said as his players gain experience to match their mental toughness, they will do well throughout the season.
“You can’t guard (Lee) with one defender,” he said. “It’s just a matter of our kids getting comfortable and starting to make open shots. There’s plenty of open shots to be had. She’s not a selfish player. She’s going to kick it out and she’s going to get better at making the right pass. Obviously it runs through her, I would be silly not to.
“They’re willing to do what we’re asking of them to do,” Poindexter concluded. “They’re trying to execute. They’re working together. I’m just proud and I know we’ve got a good group. I know they’re going to work hard and keep improving. It’s been a relief, it’s been really good having a group like this. They show up, they work and they’re coachable.”