Johnson ready for all-star challenge

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 15, 2004

[7/15/04]RAYMOND Warren Central’s Cookie Johnson and the South All-Stars have a tall task ahead of them quite literally.

Tonight’s North/South all-star girls basketball game will tip off at 6:30 p.m. at Mississippi College’s Golden Dome in Clinton, followed by the boys game at 8. Tickets are $5 per person and are good for both games.

The South leads the all-time series 20-19, but the record may even off if the South players can’t find a way to stop the North giants.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Chinita Steele of Perry Central is the South’s lone 6-foot player, but the North team has a pair of 6-footers on its squad, as well as several other post players.

“They’re big, but we know we’re quicker than they are,” said Johnson, who won The Vicksburg Post’s Player of the Year award for the second time, after leading Warren Central to the Mississippi Coliseum for the Class 5A state tournament.

South coach John Stephens of North Pike has been sprinting his team around the courts in practice at Hinds Community College in Raymond. He is conditioning the players for an aggressive, full-court game, which he hopes will give his squad the advantage.

“We don’t know how we’ll stack up against the North,” Stephens said. “They’re big, but we feel good about it. We feel like we can run with the basketball, and that’s what we’re going to make an effort to do.”

Players arrived on Tuesday and began preparation for the game with one practice on Tuesday and two more on Wednesday.

Johnson and Stephens both said practices have gone extremely well, despite two of the South’s 12 players not showing up.

“Cookie’s handled the ball well and shot the ball extremely well,” said Stephens, who is coaching his first all-star game. “We’re not putting her in a position to have to handle the ball a whole lot, but she shot the ball extremely well. She plays real hard.”

Johnson said she’s looking forward to facing single coverage from the opposing defense, something she didn’t see much of with the Lady Vikes.

“They’re going to have to play defense on everybody because everybody’s good,” she said.

More importantly, Johnson has enjoyed the practices and hopes to showcase her skills against some of the state’s top players.

“It’s been a real good experience playing against a lot of good girls,” she said. “There are girls better than me, and they’re making me better, too, playing against them.”