ETHAN TURNER: Area teams prepare for stretch run


TURNER With the turn of the new years behind us, it signals the stretch run for basketball as teams prepare for district games and draw closer to the playoffs.

For the Houston Hilltoppers, the break came at a good time. Before Christmas, the Toppers suffered a tough loss to Lafayette and head coach Chris Pettit said his team was going to use the break to clean up some things and work to get better.

In the second half of the season, coach Pettit and the Toppers will be looking for more success and improvement. Led by Jaylin Smith and Omario Johnson, these two forces down low will need to continue to play well if the Toppers are to continue to improve. Before the break, the Toppers were showing improvement every game, and Pettit is hoping that continued progress results in wins and a push towards the post season as district play begins.

For the Houlka Wildcats, they were rolling coming into the Christmas break.

With Madarius Hobson, Smoody Turner and Keshun Buchanan playing well, the Wildcats offense has been impressive throughout the early portion of the season including an impressive win over Alcorn Central.

With district play this week, head Coach Jimmy Guy McDonald is looking for improvements defensively as the season continues. He knows that his team is explosive offensively, but to coach McDonald his team’s defense is going to be the key going forward.

If the Wildcats’ offense continues its success and the defense continues to improve as McDonald wants, then once again the Houlka Wildcats will be a tough challenge on the hardwood and a tough team in the playoffs.

For the Okolona Chieftains, its another strong team that represents Okolona well.

With big man Ladarrius Spears dominating in the paint and guards all around him to knock down shots, the Chieftains are impressive on the floor. The Chieftains headed into the new year with an 11-1 record and their confidence is at an all-time high heading into the homestretch of the season.

Head coach Arteria Clifton is looking for continued development from his team as the playoffs approach. He knows this bunch is not content with simply a good record in the regular season, but their ultimate goal is a trip to Jackson and winning a new trophy to take back to Okolona.

And as long as their play in the second half matches or exceeds the play from the first, the Chieftains have great shot at accomplishing their goals and making serious noise in Jackson.

Ethan Turner is a special correspondent for the Chickasaw Journal. He can be reached via the Chickasaw Journal at 456-3771 or just look for him at the game this week.

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