Lady Bulldogs’ great experience

The first half of basketball season may be winding down, but for the Lady Bulldogs, their toughest test to date will take place this weekend.
Head coach John Stroud and his 18th nationally ranked Lady Bulldogs will hit the road for the Jerry and Sandy Wagner Tournament of Champions in Fort Smith, Ark., taking on some of the best teams in the south.
New Albany has already had a taste of this level of competition, attending Pat Summitt’s annual summer camp at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, but this will be a different setting, and one that Stroud and his team are ready to take advantage of.
“The tournament consists of state champions or runners-up from southern states, so it’s a really great experience for our girls,” he told me in an interview earlier this week.
“We’ll see how good we really are, and we’re rewarding them as well by playing teams from different areas of the country.”
What many may not realize is that this is an invite-only tournament, and the offer was extended to New Albany based on how well they performed last season along with the talent returning this season.
So far this year, New Albany has played a couple of close games, most notably against Tishomingo County last week, but they haven’t skipped a beat, pretty much picking up where they left off after last year’s disappointing end in Jackson.
This tournament will do nothing but good things for the Lady ‘Dawgs, as competing against the best talent in the region will surely help them when they jump back into division and county play in January.
Not only does this help them on the competitive level, but recruiting as well. Many Division I standouts and two former WNBA players once stepped on the same court, so the possibilities are endless.
The Lady ‘Dawgs will open the tournament against the defending 5A state champions of Arkansas, Greenwood High, tonight, and they are one of several talented teams from Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas participating in the three-day event.
Given the talent they are facing and the level they play at this weekend, I’d say it’s a win-win situation, regardless of the games’ outcomes, and kudos to the New Albany Administration for making this trip possible, as it is sure to be a great experience for everyone involved.
It will be exciting to see the outcome of this weekend’s games, and be sure to check back throughout the weekend, as I’ll have updates.