By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
UKA – Ask Itawamba AHS coach Amanda Morrow what her team’s record was last season and she doesn’t hesitate to answer: “Bad … really bad.”
This season, Morrow’s Lady Indians have posted a good, really good 11-1 record.
IAHS, which has a Jan. 4 Division 1-4A date against the nation’s No. 18-ranked team, New Albany, improved to 3-0 in league play Thursday night with a convincing 69-52 victory against an improved Tishomingo County squad.
“I don’t know what we were last year,” said Morrow, who is in her second season. “I know we won eight or nine games. I try to forget that.”
This year’s team, one that features the return of senior point guard Ally McDonald, has just about erased all memories of last season. The Mississippi State golf signee scored 18 points to lead five Lady Indians in double figures against the Lady Braves.
“Having Ally has helped us,” Morrow said. “She has two years experience handling the ball. She sees the floor really well and she hits big shots.”
McDonald took the year off to work on her golf game and it paid dividends. She reached the semifinals of the U.S. Girls Junior Amateur this summer at Pinehurst, N.C., and her IAHS golf team won the 4A state championship.
“I missed it,” she said. “I knew this would be my last opportunity to play ball again.”
Along with the return of McDonald, IAHS has rolled up victories with its defensive play. Down 19-15 early in the second quarter, the Lady Indians fed off their tenacious zone press to go on a 20-0 run to race ahead of Tishomingo County, 35-16.
The Lady Braves (8-5, 2-2) rallied to score the last seven points of the first half, but the damage was done.
“We know if we play defense our offense will take care of itself,” McDonald said. “We’ve got great shooters, good post players and we’ve got depth.”
Tishomingo County coach Cliff Little saw the improvement in the Lady Indians – a little more than he wanted.
“They out-played and out-hustled us in every phase,” he said.
For IAHS, Rebecca Cleveland, Laken McKnatt and Quay Dunn scored 12 points apiece. Janisha Adams added 10 for the winners.
“We’ve had balanced scoring all year,” Morrow said. “It’s a different player every night.”
A.C. Griffin scored 18, Deidra McCoy 14 and Danielle Blakney 12 for the Lady Braves.
(B) Tishomingo Co. 75, IAHS 64
Jake Walker scored 24 points to lead the Braves, who trailed 18-9 after the first quarter.
Jimmy Ruff and Joe Read scored 23 apiece for the Indians, who played without the services of Maikhail Miller, who is playing quarterback in Saturday’s Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game in Ocean Springs.