By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Pontotoc’s Lady Warriors tipped off practice for their 2011-12 basketball season on Monday without four starters from a team that reached the state 4A semifinals.
However, if there’s any consolation, coach Bill Russell did have the “Mighty Quinn” on his practice court.
Quinndella Ford, a 5-foot-8 senior guard, who has averaged 27 points per game during her high school career, transferred to Pontotoc this year from Okolona.
“She can do a lot of things with a basketball,” Russell said. “If she has the ball in her hands, she’s a weapon. She’s a complete offensive player … she can post you up and shoot jumpers.
“She’s learning the things we do defensively and making great strides.”
Ford, a Daily Journal all-area selection, averaged 28.2 points and connected on a career-high 45 points in a game against Ray Brooks last season for Okolona.
Russell expects her to continue as the go-to girl, but plans to give his new addition plenty of help.
“We play a lot of people – 11 to 12 a game – so it will be a change for her,” he said. “I think Quinn welcomes the change that all the burden will not be on her.”
Ford will be joined in the lineup by Russell’s daughter, Kayla, a sophomore, who is the team’s lone returning starter. Guards Anna Crestman, Olivia Owen, and Marlee Hatcher, and post player Lanikki McMillian are other projected starters.
Pontotoc opens its season on Nov. 12 against Jackson Academy in Oxford’s Crossover Classic.
* In Class 6A, Tupelo’s Lady Wave heads into the season with a new coach, Matt Justice, a former assistant for the departed Stephanie Murphy.
The Lady Wave lineup features freshman Jaleigha Polk, who hit for six 3-pointers in team’s postseason loss to Horn Lake.
* In Class 5A, Oxford welcomes back Daily Journal All-Area selection Erika Sisk, who averaged 21 points per game at point guard.
* In Class 4A, defending state champ New Albany lost everybody but Journal Player of the Year Jazmine Spears. The talented junior averaged 17.2 points, 11.5 rebounds last season.
* In Class 3A, defending state champion Ripley has All-Area post player Becca Ruckes and guard Jayla Chills back. Ruckes had a double-double – 18 points, 13 boards – in the state championship game.
Also in 3A, Belmont has All-Area guard Angelia Allen back. She averaged 20.3 points last year.
* In Class 2A, New Site lost in the state championship game, but has everybody returning, including All-Area forward Morgan Pearson, who averaged 19.7 points per game.
* In Class 1A, expect a battle all season between defending state champion H.W. Byers and Division 2-1A rival Myrtle.
Byers’ lineup features guard Alexis Hardaway while Myrtle counters with 6-foot post player Aspriona Gilbert, who averaged 22.8 points and 11.9 rebounds last season.