NAHS head coach John Stroud watched North Panola during the first day of the Battle of the Best tournament, and his team got exactly what he saw, as the Lady Cougars jeopardized the Lady ‘Dawgs undefeated record Tuesday night.
A tough defense, led by Jeneshia Jackson, found New Albany down after the first frame, 18-13, with Jazmine Spears only contributing with two points in that quarter. Once Jackson took a seat in foul trouble in the second, the Lady Bulldogs took over with a 15-0 run, 10 points from the freshman star.
“When they played their defense (with Jackson), they made us shoot from outside, and we didn’t shoot that great. A lot of their success came from creating turnovers and making easy baskets,” Stroud said.
North Panola’s defense held West Union to only 27 points on Monday, but New Albany broke through in the second and carried that momentum into the third quarter, despite a great effort from Audrey Taylor, who finished with 26 points.
“They’re very fast. We don’t see those type of guards around here, and we weren’t used to that type of quickness,” Stroud said. “Jeneshia Jackson caused problems for us throughout, and they’re a good team.”
Micha Washington kept New Albany in the game with seven second quarter points, 12 overall. In the third, Paris Sanders came off the bench to keep the game in favor of New Albany.
“Paris Sanders had her best game of the season,” Stroud said. “She played well, so our depth helped. Brittany Johnson had some quality minutes, and overall I’m real pleased.”
Big games like the 65-55 win over North Panola are what Stroud thinks his team needs to move to the next level, as this is only the Lady Cougars second loss of the season.
“This was a good playoff atmosphere, but it’s hard for us to play two good teams back to back,” Stroud said. “We didn’t play like we’re capable of, but we still managed to win by 10 points. It was a good, quality win for us.”
Spears finished with 24 points, while Sanders added 8.
New Albany will take their undefeated record to Itawamba next Tuesday night.
New Albany 66 Lafayette 46 (Monday night)
There was no rust for the Lady Bulldogs, as they took a 66-46 win over Lafayette Monday night.
Lafayette jumped to a quick 2-0 lead, but New Albany took over, led by freshman Jazmine Spears.
Spears scored 10 points in the first quarter to lead the Lady ‘Dawgs, as they built a 20-15 lead. New Albany was up by as many 12 before the Lady Commodores went on a 11-4 run to close out the first quarter, led by Shaquilla Isom’s nine points.
The Lady Bulldogs went on a run of their own after Lafayette cut the deficit to only four early in the second.
Up by 6 at the midway point of the frame, Kebrina Lucas started an 11-1 Lady ‘Dawg run, which had six straight points from Spears.
Micha Washington paced the New Albany in the third quarter, scoring six points, including a score that put the Lady Bulldogs up 51-34 late in the quarter.
Washington scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half, as New Albany went up by 20 early in the fourth and led by as many as 22 points.
After taking a week off for Christmas, New Albany only committed 10 turnovers in the game.
This game was also a feature of two undefeated teams, as New Albany improved to 13-0, while Lafayette dropped to 11-1.
Isom led the Lady Commodores with 21 points, while Nikki McChristian scored 11 in the Lady ‘Dores first loss of the season.
Spears finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Washington scored 18 points with nine rebounds Kebrina Lucas also helped in the win scoring 10 points.