It is the last go-around for New Albany and eight seniors, and they are taking nothing for granted.
For the past year, memories of last year’s state title game have lingered on the minds of the Lady Bulldogs, and for the state’s top ranked team, this is what they have prepared for all season.
“For our seniors, this is the biggest game of their careers,” Head Coach John Stroud said. “This is what we’ve been shooting for all year, and they’re going to be ready to play. They’re more mature this year, and we’re motivated.”
Awaiting the Lady ‘Dawgs is Lawrence County, the top-seeded team from the south, who defeated Pontotoc to advance to tonight’s title game. Three juniors lead the Lady Cougars to Jackson, including Tiaria Griffin, who averages 28 points per game and scored 31 against the Lady Warriors Monday night.
“They’re a good team,” Stroud said. “This is why we played the tough competition this year. If we go in and do the things we do right and shoot better than we did on Monday, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
The Lady ‘Dawgs had a slow start in their semifinal match against South Jones, shooting 8-for-24 in the first half and playing from behind for the win. Concentrating on their inside game will be key, as Stroud feels that area could help his team bring home the coveted state championship.
“Their weakness is their inside game, which is our strong point, so we’ll look for Micha (Washington) and Jazmine (Spears) to step up, as we have the size advantage,” he said. “Their guards are their strength, so we’ll need ours to step up there.”
Experience leads New Albany, who are in Jackson for the third year in a row.
“There are no nerves because we have four senior starters who were in this same game last year,” he said. “I think our experience will benefit us.”
Friday's game is set for a 7 p.m. tip at Mississippi Coliseum.