By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
NEW SITE – New Site lost a lot when all-state guard Krystal Jackson was sidelined for the remainder of the season in December, but the Lady Royals didn’t lose it all.
The Prentiss County team, despite a few stumbles, looks prepared to make some noise in the postseason. They take a 17-4 record into tonight’s Division 1-2A home game against Walnut.
“We struggled for two or three weeks (after Jackson’s exit), but that was expected,” coach Byron Sparks said. “Now, everybody’s a lot more confident. Everybody’s picked up their game. Everybody’s chipped in to make up the difference.”
Sparks knew it was going to take more than one player to replace Jackson, who averaged 18.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.9 steals per game.
“Krystal was our safety net, she got us where we needed to go,” he said.
In Jackson’s absence, 5-foot-11 junior forward Morgan Pearson and 5-9 sophomore guard Christy Clark have shared the load. Pearson’s averaging 19.1 points and 7.2 rebounds while Clark is averaging 11.4 points and 5.4 boards.
Sparks has also given three freshmen – Marlee Taylor, Shelby Stricklen and Cristin Pharr – a lot of playing time.
“They’ve helped us depth wise,” he said. “They’re playing a ton of minutes. They’re scoring and rebounding.”
New Site has played in the state tournament the last two seasons and lost in the 2A finals last year to Newton. This season’s goal, even without Jackson, remains the same.
“We’re not changing the way we do things because we’re short-handed,” Sparks said. “Going to state is still our goal. If we don’t go it will be a disappointment.”
Following tonight’s game, the Lady Royals play North Pontotoc at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Renasant Bank Lady Challenge at Ingomar.