William Cotton just can’t wait to get on the floor this season.
The first year head girls basketball coach is returning to the sport after an 11-year absence. It’s going to be a battle right out of the gates.
“We’re ready to play, “ he said. “We’re ready for a ball game.”
The Lady Eagles will have their hands full in the season opener, the winner of North Sunflower and Starkville Christian next Wednesday at the Winona Christian Invitational. If they win, they could meet reigning MAIS Single A champion Delta the following day. That’s just the first test.
Then they travel to Heritage to battle the host school and Starkville Academy, two of the top teams in AAA ball. Add Washington School to the mix and it’s going to be a bumpy ride from the start.
“We could be 2-3, or somewhere in between,” Cotton said. “I’ll be disappointed if we start 0-5. These first two weeks are going to gage things pretty quick. The first part of the season doesn’t determine what your going to do at the end of the season.”
Lately, the Lady Eagles have made a habit of getting hot at the right time.
Last season, Hebron finished 28-5, undefeated in district play and three of those five losses came against Oak Hill twice and Leake. Hebron ended their season in the state championship, falling to Delta 48-39.
Cotton got right to work with the girls over the summer, taking them to camps to get a head start with a new philosophy in mind.
In the past Cotton explained, the girls would walk down the floor, run an offensive play, play defense and do the same all over again. He decided to make a change and utilize a tool that was already in the bag, speed.
“The speed was there all along,” he said. “They just got to learn how to work with it.”
Since the second day of school, the girls have been working on transitions and presses, while at the same time running the familiar plays and offenses they have been accustomed to. That type of game is very similar to some of the teams they will be facing this season, including Delta.
Practice makes perfect, and that’s true for the Lady Eagles. Cotton stresses they do everything full speed at practice, even lay ups because it’s not going to be that easy in a game.
“We stress to be quick on your feet and put a lot of pressure on the ball,” he said. “We’re not going to try and steal the ball, but we are going to try and make the other team make mistakes.”
The new system will also give the girls an opportunity to freelance on the court. Cotton said these girls have basketball sense, and know what to do if they need to improvise to keep the offense moving.
Although the conditioning workout were not as frequent as Cotton would have liked, the Lady Eagles are in good shape, enough to last four quarters.
“We have speed,” he said. “It may not be super speed, but it’s there.”
What the Lady Eagles do have is rebounding.
6’3 Tori Nichols returns for her senior campaign and has a reputation for cleaning the boards with the best of the them.
Sabrina Oswalt has the ability to control the pace of the game at point guard. She’s not a super scorer, but she’ll knock down her fair share of points to get a win.
Beverly Blake and Chloe Tapley will take charge as snipers from the outside and Ruth Foster occupies the other guard slot, using her speed to take the transition game down the court.
With the pieces in place, Cotton won’t hold back that the team is looking to go undefeated, at least in district play once again and even against Single A competition. He’s definitely not shy in saying the Lady Eagles have a chance at beating some of those AAA schools.
Regardless of their overall record, it’s what they do down the stretch that will make or break a season. If last year is any indication, the Hebron fans can expect a good one.View more articles in: