By David Wheeler | Daily Journal
FULTON – Itawamba Indians head coach Marty Cooper has already been through a range of emotions in just two months of the current basketball season.
After a 1-5 start, the Indians completed their pre-Christmas schedule with a 3-1 effort, including a North Division win over Coahoma.
“For a team with no experience that started 1-5, we could have given up,” said Cooper, whose Indians are 4-6, 1-0 heading into tonight’s home game against Jones County. “Now they’re starting to grow up a bit, and at least we’re heading in the right direction.”
That direction could get a significant boost as second semester play begins, because former Okolona standout D. J. Gardner becomes eligible after transferring from Mississippi State.
“He’s been practicing with the team, and there is a lot of excitement on campus for when he plays,” Cooper said. “But we don’t need to put too much pressure on him.
“He still hasn’t played a college game yet, and it’s tough to adjust to a new player in the middle of the season on the fly.”
Adjusting nicely for the Indians so far this season has been freshmen guards Anthony McDonald (15 points per game) from Aberdeen and Quintin Lee (10.7 ppg) from Ripley, Tenn. Cooper also points to the solid inside presence of freshman Tre Wells (8.8 ppg) from Tuscaloosa, Ala., and sophomore Nick Moncure (4.9 ppg) from Jackson.
fast start for women
A nice blend and balance has helped the Lady Indians to a successful 8-1, 1-0 start this season.
“The balance of our offensive scheme has been good, and it’s been a different player every night that has played good,” head coach Nanci Gray said. “The kids are playing well together.”
Gray points to the four sophomores on the roster as keys to the Lady Indians nice start – LaPrecious Naylon (16.9 ppg) from Eutaw, Ala., Shay Bonner (10.6 ppg) from Starkville, Jameika Hoskins (13.0 ppg) from Aberdeen, and Vechatita Bonner (11.6 ppg) from Waynesboro.
Gray said she also likes the early contribution of freshman Jasmine Hampton from Bruce.
“We need to keep being able to score outside, and keep playing aggressively on defense,” Gray said. “And when we come back from Christmas, we need to get in that competitive mode again.”
Both teams return to their North Division schedule Jan. 17 at Mississippi Delta.