Lady Bulldogs knock off Christmas rust

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

NEW ALBANY – New Albany had a little too much inside muscle and finesse for Itawamba AHS in their first meeting Thursday.
The end result: the top-ranked Lady Bulldogs powered their way to a 56-43 victory against the visiting Lady Indians in their Division 1-4A showdown at Memorial Gym.
New Albany’s big guns – Micha Washington and Jazmine Spears – produced double-doubles. Washington scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Spears, a sophomore, added 17 points and 12 boards.
“That’s good when our big girls get 34 points,” New Albany coach John Stroud said. “I thought we guarded well and rebounded well.
“We grinded it out like we always do.”
IAHS coach Amanda Morrow believes her team’s lack of production on the boards and an inability to establish any kind of offensive attack led to its loss.
“They killed us on the boards and we killed ourselves there,” she said. “We didn’t have anybody step up and box out. We knew we had to win on the boards.”
The Lady Indians (13-2 overall, 3-1 division) shot just 34 percent from the field – 25 percent on 3-pointers – against New Albany’s 2-3 zone defense. Laken McKnatt’s 11 points was tops for IAHS.
“We never got in any offensive rhythm,” Morrow added.
New Albany (13-2, 5-0), which got 12 points from guard Nyambi Penson, jumped out to a 10-0 lead despite committing eight of its 21 turnovers in the opening quarter.
IAHS, behind its zone press, battled back to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 18-12 by the end of the opening period.
“We worked on their 1-2-2 three-quarter court press this week, but it didn’t help us a whole lot,” Stroud said. “Being off three weeks didn’t help us either. We were rusty.”
The Bulldogs had not played since a pre-Christmas tournament in Fort Smith, Ark.
New Albany led 27-19 at halftime before pushing its lead to 40-27 by the end of the third thanks to the play of Spears. She scored three field goals in the final three minutes – two on putbacks and one on a layup.
“I’m not that good of a shooter,” she said, then smiled. “I had to go to the lane. That’s what I’m good at.”
The two teams are scheduled to play again Jan. 28 in Fulton.
– (B) New Albany 93, IAHS 50: Malcolm Spears scored 16 points and Tadarious Coburn added 14 to lead New Albany (13-2, 4-1).
Joe Read scored 16 for the Indians (5-10, 1-3), who trailed 56-24 at halftime.
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593

Click video to hear audio