By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
PONTOTOC – Bill Russell drove through a heavy rain on Monday to pick up game tape of next week’s state tournament opponent – Raymond.
Pontotoc’s girls basketball coach already has a pretty good idea what to expect. The tapes will be a confirmation.
“From talking with coaches, I know they’re a lot like us,” Russell said. “They shoot a lot of 3s and spread you out on offense. It should be a pretty interesting matchup.”
The Lady Warriors (30-3), who own a 19-game win streak, return to the Mississippi Coliseum as defending Class 4A state champions. The team’s lone losses were to Center Hill, Tupelo and New Site. The THS and New Site games went to overtime.
The tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday.
Pontotoc reached the state semifinals with a 59-49 win against county rival North Pontotoc. The Warriors also had wins against Noxubee County, Lafayette and Greenwood to reach the title game.
“It was definitely a good week,” Russell said. “We played some good, athletic teams. However, we didn’t shoot the ball as well as we’ll need to next week.
“Defensively, we kept the scores where we wanted them in the low 40s and 50s. I like our chances when we can do that.”
Pontotoc does visit Jackson without Quinn Ford, the Daily Journal’s 2012 Player of the Year. Still, the Lady Warriors have plenty firepower left in their arsenal.
“We’re more balanced than we were last year,” Russell said. “Last year we stood around waiting to see what Quinn was going to do.”
All of the team’s guards – led by Kayla Russell and Marlee Hatcher – shoot well from the perimeter. Anna Rosenbaum, a swing player, can shoot from the outside and rebound inside.
Nikki McMillian also gives them a strong inside presence.
Russell’s considered the team’s top defender. She shut down North Pontotoc’s Andrea Lewis in the first half of last week’s North title game.
“They run the floor well and play good man-to-man defense,” North Pontotoc coach Shane Montgomery said. “They are so deep.”