By D.E. Wheeler

Daily Journal

Heather Faulkner’s personality mirrored her Hatley Tigers, which quietly became one of the best teams during the 1995-96 season in the Daily Journal circulation area.

While Faulkner has a shy off-court nature, her fierce on-court personality and talent has resulted in the 5-10 junior being named the Daily Journal’s Girls Player of the Year.

Faulkner is joined on the first team by seniors Tiffany Sitton of Alcorn Central, Carrie Coleman of Hamilton and Nicki Johnson of Oxford, along with junior Portia Jones of Nettleton.

The Daily Journal’s second team finds an all-underclass group; juniors Jamie Bender of Baldwyn, Sherell Riddle of Aberdeen and Christy Glidewell of Tishomingo County, and sophomores Takela Corbitt of Bruce and Jill Goolsby of West Union.

“Heather was certainly an important cog on our ball club,” Hatley coach Mickey Miller said. “She was like having another coach on the floor.”

Perhaps a signal of Faulkner’s leadership was her post-season play, when Miller feels she took her game up to a higher level.

“From the division tournament on, she stepped it up a notch,” Miller said. “Of course we were going to her more, too, with everything on the line.”

Two post-season efforts stand out in Miller’s mind about Faulkner, the first being a division tournament contest against New Site. With Hatley holding an early 19 point lead, Faulkner turned her ankle and left the game.

While on the bench, New Site tied the game with a 19-0 run. But after Faulkner returned, Hatley went on to victory.

The other tournament game that stands out was the 2A North Mississippi final against the state’s No. 1 rank team, West Tallahatchie. Hatley fell behind big early, but after a sideline talk by Miller, Faulkner and the Lady Tigers came back and had chances to win the contest late.

“It was as enjoyable a game as I’ve sat through, watching those girls battle each other,” Miller said, referring to Faulkner’s 28 point effort and West Tallahatchie’s Stephanie Murphy’ 35 points.

“She’s the type of kid I love to coach,” Miller said. “If I told her to jump over the gym, she wouldn’t say she couldn’t do it. She would ask where to start.”

The Lady Tigers finished 30-5 and ranked No. 2 in the Daily Journal Girls Poll.

Nicki Johnson: Despite playing on a team with a lot of depth which limited time on the court, the 5-9 senior forward still managed to earn plenty of attention.

Johnson committed early to Southern University of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), and has been named to the Mississippi team for the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game. The Lady Chargers finished the season as the No. 1 ranked girls team in the area and won the Class 4A state championship.

Tiffany Sitton: On last year’s Daily Journal All-Area first team also, the 6-0 senior helped the Lady Bears to a 25-5 record. Committing to Mississippi State early, she had 110 deflections, an Alcorn Central team statistic that includes blocked shots.

“Considering her size, she can step away from the basket and score too,” Alcorn Central coach Louie Riddick said. “With her on the court, she allowed us to play more aggressively on defense also.”

Carrie Coleman: After two seasons of serious contention for the Class 1A state championship, the Lady Lions’ fortunes dimmed slightly this season. But the 5-10 senior still managed to shine and has committed to Mississippi University for Women.

“She could handle the press real well, she could shoot inside, she could shoot outside. She’s an all around player” Walters said. “She was my best 3-point shooter, and she was my best post player.”

Portia Jones: This is the second honor of the week for the 5-10 junior, having been announced Wednesday as Lee County’s Player of the Year by the Daily Journal.

Jones helped the Lady Tigers finish the season at 19-9, good enough to be ranked No. 7 in the area. The Lady Tigers advance to within one win of qualifying for the Class 2A State Tournament.

Second Team

Takela Corbitt: Helped Lady Trojans to a 23-7 record, ranked No. 9 in area poll, third straight second team honor.

Jill Goolsby: Helped Lady Eagles to state tournament, a 28-5 record and ranked No. 6 in area.

Jamie Bender: Helped Lady Bearcats to a 23-6 record and ranked No 10 in area.

Christy Glidewell: Helped Lady Braves to within one win of 4A title, a 27-10 record and ranked No. 3 in area.

Sherell Riddle: Helped Lady Bulldogs to surprising Division 2-4A regular season title.

Click video to hear audio