Six High School Hoops Teams to Watch

New Site Lady Royals
– Division: 1-2A
– Coach: Byron Sparks
– Record/Playoffs: 30-7, lost semifinals 2A state tournament
– Starting Five:
G Krystal Jackson, 5-9, Jr. (15.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 4.5 apg, 2.8 spg)
G Bree Harris, 5-6, Sr. (14 ppg)
F Darrah Pharr, 5-10, Sr. (11 ppg, 6 rpg)
PG Carleigh King, 5-5, Sr. (9 ppg, 6 apg)
G Cara Clark, 5-6, Sr. (3 ppg)
Outlook
– The Lady Royals have seven players back from last season’s team that won the North Mississippi tournament and advanced to the state tournament for the first time in the program’s history. … Two former division foes have moved on – Belmont to 3A and H.W. Byers to 2A. … Pharr and Jackson are a solid one-two punch inside and outside. … Harris is the team’s best 3-point shooter.
Belmont Lady Cardinals - Division: 1-3A
- Coach: Chris Higginbottom
- Record/Playoffs: 21-11, lost in North Mississippi quarterfinals
- Starting Five:
F Anna Brooke Page, 5-11, Sr. (20.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.1 spg)
G 5-3 Zoe Hammock, Sr. (12 ppg)
G 5-3 Leslie Robinson, So. (7.3 ppg)
F 5-10 Morgan Pearson, So. (7.2 ppg)
F 5-11 Kelsie Montgomery, So. (9.1 ppg)
Outlook:
- Montgomery suffered a torn ACL early last year and missed the remainder of the season. She was just recently cleared to play. ... Page is considered the Cardinals' go-to player, but has plenty of depth to help her this season. ... Robinson, Pearson and Montgomery all started as freshmen last season. ... The Cardinals moved up this season from 2A to 3A.
Tupelo Lady Wave
– Division: 2-6A
– Coach: Stephanie Murphy
– Record/Playoffs: 26-7, lost opening round of 5A state tournament
– Starting Five:
F Amber Jackson, 5-10, Sr. (13.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg)
PG Antoinette Riddle, 5-8, So. (14 ppg on 9th grade team)
G Aftan Goree, 5-8, Sr. (5 ppg)
F Dasia Mosley, 5-10, Jr. (2 ppg)
C Morgan Whiterspoon, 6-0, Sr. (4 ppg, 2.5 rpg)
– Outlook:
Riddle was moved up from the ninth-grade team last season and helped in the postseason. Murphy likes the young player’s height, aggressive style and ball-handling. … Jackson is the only player returning with any quality minutes on the playing floor. … Wave’s goals this season are to take care of the ball and play sound defense, a trademark of Murphy’s teams.
New Albany Lady Bulldogs
– Division: 1-4A
– Coach: John Stroud
– Record/Playoffs: 27-5, lost opening round of 4A state tournament
– Starting Five:
F Jazmine Spears, 5-11, Fr. (15.7 ppg, 11.9 rpg)
G Kebrina Lucas, 5-6, Jr. (13 ppg)
P Micha Washington 6-1, Jr. (11 ppg, 6 rpg)
PG Porche White, 5-3, Jr. (2 ppg, 5 apg)
G Nyambia Pinson, 5-6, Jr.
– Outlook:
Spears was clearly the state’s top eighth grader in varsity play last season. Stroud says she’s starting to add an outside game to her strong inside play. … Caroline Stroud, the coach’s daughter, and Paris Sanders will provide depth to the lineup. … The Bulldogs were something of a surprise last season, but everybody knows about them headed into 2009-10.
Myrtle Lady Hawks
– Division: 2-1A
– Coach: Chris Greer
– Record/Playoffs: 33-7, lost in 1A state tournament semifinals
– Starting Five:
C Aspirona Gilbert, 5-11, So. (19.2 ppg, 9.8 rpg)
PG Halle Knowles, 5-6, So. (3 ppg, 4 apg)
G Rhagen Hopper, 5-6, Sr. (5 ppg)
F Jenna Jordan, Fr., 5-9
F Meshay Cox, Fr., 5-3
– Outlook:
The Lady Hawks will open their season without the service of two key players – Gilbert and Keanna Cox. Both players had offseason surgery for knee injuries. Gilbert is expected to miss the first six or seven games. Cox is not expected back until January. … Greer is expecting big things out of Knowles at the PG spot. He’s hoping she’ll use her skills to cut down on turnovers.
Aberdeen Lady Bulldogs
– Division: 2-3A
– Coach: Latorrence Bivens
– Record/Playoffs: 27-6, lost in 3A state tournament semifinals
– Starting Five
G Jameika Hoskins, 5-10, Sr. (23.6 ppg)
PG Janne Hodges, 5-6, Sr. (3 ppg)
G Dayana McGee, 5-8, Sr. (16 ppg)
F Regina Barker, 5-9, Jr. (8 ppg)
F Michelle Stewart, 5-8, Sr. (4 ppg)
– Outlook:
The Lady Bulldogs are looking to replace point guard Sally Davis with senior Janne Hodges or senior Sommer Burnett. … Bivens, a former assistant, is in his first season as head coach. … One of the keys will be the inside play of Barker, who is the team’s top rebounder, and free throw shooter.

Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal