Parker’s return helps Lady Bulldogs

On Jan. 6, the Lady Bulldogs suffered a difficult defeat to Rosa Fort, falling to 0-2 in division play. The events following that game, however, became the story.
Freshman guard Kayla Parker passed out following the 62-61 loss and began having seizures in the trainer’s room at Memorial Gym. After tests at the hospital and some time off the court, Parker has returned, playing a significant part in New Albany’s last two wins over Senatobia and Tupelo.
“We were scared about what happened, so we’re just thankful to have her back,” coach John Stroud said. “For her to contribute the way she has is remarkable, and she’s a big boost to our team because she has a lot of basketball sense. She has a feel for the game that not many girls have, so we’re glad to have her back.”
Against the Lady Warriors last Friday, Parker scored 11 points with three triples, helping the Lady ‘Dawgs to a 3-2 division record and a second place finish in region play. On Tuesday against Tupelo, Parker again stepped up when she was needed the most, hitting the game-winning free throws in New Albany’s 60-58 win over the Lady Wave.
“I was praying right before I shot them, but Coach Stroud talked to me before and just told me I needed to go out and make them,” Parker said.
Stroud also said that Parker has improved since coming back from last month’s incident, helping his team.
“We’re searching for guards and ball handlers, and she just happened to be out on the court the last two minutes of the game and she got fouled,” he said. “She’s a good shooter, she’s got good form and she knocked both free throws in. I’m proud of her because she had missed several shots earlier in the game that she should have made.”
Parker is happy to help her team in any way, but admits that there is still some fear in her, as the seizures could happen again at any time, and she still does not know what exactly triggered her last incident.
“Ever since the accident, I don’t remember what happened, but I was scared to play,” she said. “My mom and dad talked to me and helped me through it, so I started playing again.”
“I’m scared that I might fall out again if I play too hard, but I’m listening to the doctors and staying hydrated and every chance I get, drink a Gatorade.”
New Albany has a week-long break to prepare for the division tournament, which will take place at Memorial Gym. Stroud is happy with how his team has progressed this season, with the example being the difference in the two games his team played against Tupelo. Losing 65-51 in November and winning this week shows his team has progressed.
Junior Jazmine Spears paced the Lady ‘Dawgs in the win, scoring 41 points with 26 rebounds.
 “The first time we played Tupelo, Jazmine fouled out in the fourth and on Tuesday, she played the entire game,” Stroud said. “She just took over and dominated, and we’ve improved some since the first game. This was a good, quality win for us going into the division tournament next week.”
And Parker hopes to continue seeing improvement in herself and in her team as they start their postseason run.
“We have to go out and play hard like we played against Senatobia,” she said of the division tournament. “Hopefully we can go out with that intensity and play like that next Thursday.”