Loaded Missy Gators shoot for a state title

Published 12:01 pm Monday, November 8, 2010

The Missy Gators have their sights high for this season and they want their final destination to be at the Mississippi Coliseum.

This year, Vicksburg has the tools to get there after falling in the Region 4-6A tournament at Greenville-Weston last season. And for the first time in several years, the Missy Gators will host the tournament.

“To end the season like that, it has been a long four or five months,” Vicksburg coach Barbara Hartzog said. “We’ve never hosted district. You want to be playing that second night (of the tournament). We have everything going our way, hosting district, that’s a big relief there. We want to host that satellite game.”

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

The key will be the senior class of last year’s Vicksburg Post Player of the Year Donyeah Mayfield, guards Shanequa Hill, Eugenia Burks and Shaniqua Butler and forward Shavedra Farris.

“These five are probably the strongest senior class I’ve had,” Hartzog said. “They’ve been together since 10th grade. It’s their team and we’ll go as they go.”

Leading the way for the Missy Gators will be Mayfield, who averaged 15.7 points per contest and gobbled up 9.8 rebounds.

Mayfield has expanded her shooting range out to the 3-point line and she will play more on the wing with her improved ball-handling.

But the Missy Gators are far from being dependent on one player.

“Donyeah isn’t the team,” Hartzog said. “She brings out the best in them and they bring out the best in her. They compliment her and she compliments them. All of them work well together. Donyeah has got to step up and take it to another level, but she’s only as good as the players around her.”

Another reason for Mayfield’s move is the quality depth the Missy Gators will have in the post. Most of it is young, as Hartzog has six sophomores on the roster that need some seasoning.

“We’ve got some good posts and plenty of guards,” Hartzog said. “It’s a lack of experience that’s a concern. We’ve got a lot of sophomores and our seniors have to get us in situations where we can give them some playing time.”

In the backcourt, the Missy Gators lose Alexus Stirgus and her clutch scoring (13.7 per game) and defense, but will gain even more depth with four players who will split time in the backcourt.

All of that depth translates to Hartzog being able to play mix-and-match with her lineups. If the Missy Gators need to match up against a big team, she can easily play three posts and a couple of guards. If the Missy Gators need more speed, she can play four guards and a post to get more speed on the court.

Either way, the possibilities are endless.

“I’ve never had this many posts,” Hartzog said. “We don’t have a true point guard, but all of my guards can handle the ball. They all can get it where they need it to be. We always rely on our speed.”

But no matter what lineup the Missy Gators put out on the floor, any team of Hartzog’s is guaranteed to do two things: defend and rebound.

“We live and die with our defense,” Hartzog said. “Your defense is going to bring your offense. Rebounding, it’s all about effort. No talent required. When the effort is there, we’ll control the boards. You control the boards, you control the game.”