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A new era at West Point

October 26, 2011

In last year’s first round of the 5A playoffs, West Point was out scored by Indianola-Gentry 20-8 in the overtime period. Their season ended rather quickly after making it to the postseason for the first time a while. That loss still sits on the players minds.

“ A lot of our seniors played a lot of minutes last year,” head coach Brad Cox said. “They weren’t just watching it, they were right in the thick of it.”

It’s a new season, and for several players coming back, it’s their last chance to make the most of their legacy wearing the green and white. Cox agrees.

“We’ve kind of talked about being the group to turn West Point basketball around and get it moving in the right direction,” he said.
“These guys take pride in it and want to be that group to start a winning tradition.”

The Green Wave will utilize a half-court defense and use their athleticism to their advantage on the offensive side of the ball.

West Point returns six seniors, who last year as underclassmen got significant minutes on the floor both as starters and off the bench for the Green Wave who finished 15-16 and shard a three-way tie for the district title with Oxford and New Hope. Despite losing their leading scorer Laquintis Robertson, West Point’s go-to-guy in the clutch, Cox feels that this season they won’t have to rely solely on just one player.

“It should be easy for this group to play as a whole,” he said. “I’ll be surprised who our leading scorer is because we should have five or six guys with 10 points a game.”

Six of the seven returning seniors are all expected to have an impact this season on the court led by point guard Cortez Malone, who last year started every game for the Green Wave and averaged nearly a dozen points. Malone’s knowledge of the game will give him the freedom to call his own plays Cox says while being tough on the defensive side.
Guard Daryl Thomas will be the sniper for the Green Wave, the most dominate long-range shooter on the team.

“We do a lot of attacking the basket,” Cox explained. “So teams will pack that zone on us and he’ll be that guy to come in and hit those shots.”

Laquante Gaston was the squads leading rebounder last year from the forward spot, although he’s naturally a guard. Cox says he’s even a bigger threat on the transition from one end of the floor to other.

In the paint, 6’7 Tyrone Saverson will have a lot resting on his shoulders this season.

“Our success against some of the good teams may come down to how well he plays,” Cox said. “How well he controls the paint as far as blocking shots, changing shots an controlling rebounds.”

Athletic, long and slender, Arrington Lenoir will be the swing man and is really good in press situations and in the transition game.

Starkville transfer Keon McKinney will add a little spark to the team and Cox says he’ll bring a lot of energy to floor on offense and defense.

West Point’s schedule will arguably be one of the toughest in 5A with match ups against Starkville, Tupelo, and Kemper County all in November.

Both the Yellowjackets and Wildcats feature two of the top recruits in the state, Gavin Ware, Starkville and Devontae Pollard of Kemper County.

Cox recalls last year how against Pollard, then a junior, he scored
eight points in a matter of minutes while West Point was trailing by one heading into halftime. All they tried to do was just hold on to the ball.

“We went from down one to down by nine because of him,” he said. “He’s pretty good.”

West Point is right in the thick of what Cox believes is the toughest class in the state in 5A, not just of the caliber of teams in the north, but also all the teams in the Jackson region including Callaway, Provine and Ridgeland.

“For us to be successful in the playoffs, we have to play some really
good teams,” he said. “It doesn’t do us any good to win 20 games without playing anybody and then get knocked out in the first round of the playoffs.”

The district slate features New Hope, Oxford and Saltillo again this season. For the last two years, the region has been dominated by the Green Wave, Trojans and Chargers. Cox expects the same again.

“Our goal this year is to win the district championship and secure home court in the first round of the playoffs,” he said. Last year the Green Wave lost to Oxford in the championship.

The Green Wave will be well traveled by the end of the season with so many tournaments they’ve scheduled to play in including at Ridgeland and Aberdeen. How they perform on the road will definitely become a huge factor on how they finish the season.

“Once you get past that first round of the playoffs, you can’t play at home anyway,” Cox said. “Hopefully we’ll be used to playing on the road, used to being the bad guy in other people’s gyms. We won’t have to be at home to play well.”

The Green Wave tip-off the new season Thursday with a Meet the Green Wave pep rally and scrimmage starting at 6 p.m.

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