• 50°

Gators, Missy Gators trying to right ship after 2003-04

VHS girls shoot to reach postseason

Every practice starts the same for Vicksburg’s girls basketball team. The players run drills to work on their shooting.

Last season the Missy Gators missed baskets and free throws in crucial situations to finish 15-15. They were knocked out of the division tournament by Forest Hill in the first round. Despite committing only seven turnovers in that game, VHS shot a woeful 26 percent in the 63-50 loss.

“We’ve just got to put the ball in the basket,” VHS coach Michael Coleman said, pointing out that his team shot 32 percent last season. “We lost a lot of close ball games by doing that. As soon as we get that shooting percentage up to around 40 percent, hopefully we can win some of those close ones this time.”

The Missy Gators lost leading scorer Tiffany Hubbard, but she was the lone senior on last year’s squad. This year’s crop is also young only two seniors but they have seen playing time.

“We’re still young, but we’ve got a lot more experience than we did last year because just about all of these kids played last year as 10th graders,” Coleman said. “I’m expecting bigger and better things. We ought to be better than we were last year, hopefully more consistent.”

Those expectations start with junior forward Kristin Ellis, who averaged 9.2 points and eight rebounds last year. But Ellis sometimes disappeared in critical parts of the game, and Coleman hopes she’s ready to take the next step this year.

“There’s some heat on her because these other post players, they’re ready. Kristin doesn’t want to end up sitting and watching them play, I don’t think,” said Coleman, adding that Ellis has developed a good 15-foot jumper in the offseason. “I’m expecting a real big season out of her. I’m expecting a double-double as far as averages go for points and rebounds.”

Ellis also has expectations for herself, and she feels she’s not where she needs to be.

“I think I need to step up a lot because I’m not doing it right now,” she said.

Ellis will be joined by sophomore Rachel Jenkins and senior Jennifer Hunter at forward, but the strength of the team may be the guards.

Kendra Sims leads the way at point guard, and Coleman will use a mix of players at the wing positions, including juniors Jazmin Johnson and Megan Humes.

“We’re small again, we’re quick,” Coleman said. “We’re going to have to depend on our defense and our quickness again, basically like we have the last two or three years.”

Cre’Tarsha Taylor should be a starter at guard once she returns from a two-game suspension.

“We’re going to sit her out the first couple of games, a little team thing,” Coleman said. “It’s nothing major, that’s why it’s just two games. After that we’ll have our full team with us.”

The Missy Gators will contend in a strong division, headed by division champion and crosstown rival Warren Central, which returns the core players of its team. Natchez and Forest Hill also figure to have good teams.

“Basically, they still have the same teams they had last year, and they were real tough,” Ellis said. “But we’re trying to get our district this year.”