Guards lead Lady ‘Cats to state tourney

Published 6:00 am Thursday, March 1, 2001

BOGUE CHITTO – The Bogue Chitto Lady Bobcats are gearing up foranother run at the Class 1A State Tournament title Friday afternoonat 1 p.m. when they tangle with Montgomery County in Jackson’sMississippi Coliseum. Sophomore guards Jessica Melton and RandiMoak, two primary Bogue Chitto players from last year’s team, saythey’re ready.

“We weren’t really intimidated about playing in the Coliseumlast year,” said Melton. “We just fell short of a lot ofexpectations and it’s good to have the chance again.”

Melton said that the team was ready, and there was no case of”bad nerves” at this point. “I’m sure there will be some once weget in there, but that’ll go away once we tip-off.”

Moak and Melton both started on last year’s team which lost toScott Central in the semifinals. “I don’t foresee us doing anythingdifferent in preparation for these games,” said Moak. “Just keepplaying like we’ve been playing.”

Lady Bobcat head coach Mickey Myers points to this season andthe reality of what has been. “This year is like a Cinderella storyfor us to be in the tournament,” said Moak. “We didn’t mention thetournament this year in the preseason. I told our kids to justrelax and play well and let everything fall into place.”

Myers said that the experience of participating in the 2000State Tournament should be a big help for his two guards.

“There’s no question that it will help,” he said. “Jessica(Melton) and Randi (Moak) are very talented and athletic, and asfreshmen they complimented our three senior starters real well.”It’s got to be an advantage, especially with them being leaders onthis year’s team.”

Myers said that sophomores Yolanda Drummond and Jerrica McGaryalso got some quality playing time in last year’s event. “Thisgroup will be focused and the fact that we have a legitimate shotto make a run at the State title has them feeling confident intheir abilities.”

The Lady Bobcats have won 9-of-10 down the stretch aftersuffering through a slump midway through the season.

“We weren’t playing well as a team at one point,” said Myers.”The season is long and its hard to stay up. In the last two weeks,and when the playoffs started, we’ve come together and playedwell.”

That one loss in that span was to Lake, a team Bogue Chittoknows they could meet again if both advance to the finals.

“Unfortunately we lost our home court advantage against Lakelast week because of the wet (sweating) floor,” said Myers. “Wehustled and played hard, but we just couldn’t shoot thebasketball.” The finals were moved to the Enterprise gymnasium.

Bogue Chitto fell behind 41-19 late in the third quarter whenMyers called a timeout. “I called the timeout to challenge thekids,” he said. “We’re not going to get blown out and we’re notgoing to quit. It’s going to take a miraculous effort to win thegame, but we’re playing for pride right now.”

The Lady Bobcats proceeded to outscore Lake 33-18 down thestretch.

“We knew Lake was extremely talented with their only lossescoming at the hands of 3A and 4A schools,” said Myers. “They hadthree six-footers and three good guards.”

Myers said the kids gained confidence in the final quarter andknow they have the capabilities to win should the two meetagain.

“It was one of the least disappointing losses of the season,”said Myers. “You go in as the No. 2 team in the South and we won’thave that long layoff like we did last year.”

Myers said his squad went 11 days without playing last yearafter finishing No. 1 in South State.

“Lake will go 12 days without playing, and that’s not good,”said Myers. “I’ve seen teams lose their momentum because of thelong layoff. We have an advantage of playing a game in the Coliseumand getting those pregame jitters out of the way.”

Myers said Bogue Chitto’s Friday opponent, Montgomery County,compares favorably to Durant and McAdams, two teams whoparticipated in last week’s South State at Bogue Chitto.

“Marlena Wright, a 5-9 senior, is a good post player forMontgomery County,” said Myers. “She’ll post you up or take you outon the three-point arch and shoot from out there. They have a goodpoint guard in 5-5 senior Ariel Miller. She can score, but her jobis to handle the basketball. They also have 5-4 Regina Purnell, agood shooter from three-point range.”

He also said that 6-0 senior Bianca Daniels is primarily adefensive player who rarely gets involved in the offense.

Myers points to Lake and Myrtle as the favorites to capture the1A crown. “Myrtle and Lake both have only three loses each,” saidMyers. “Myrtle has Armintie Price and Priscilla Berry, twooutstanding players who are well-coached and play in a talentedarea of Mississippi. To be 32-3 at this point indicates they are aquality team.”

As Friday’s tipoff draws closer, Myers thinks his team has whatit takes to prevail.

“We’ve been able to put some good athletes on the court thisyear. We’ve had some young players like Yolanda (Drummond) Marquita(Ratcliff) and Jessica (McGary) come in with little experience asstarters and perform well. Senior Kristen Hatten has been a supersub for us. She has excellent instincts and a great attitude;something the whole team has acquired.”

Bogue Chitto Tradition

“Bogue Chitto has been to the Coliseum the last 18 years,” saidMyers. “Whether it has been the boys or girls team, there is atradition here. Tradition is a difficult thing in sports to buildbut it’s tough to kill.

“These girls have been there to see some of thosechampionships,” Myers continue. “They know about the passing of thetorch and they work to keep that tradition alive for now and thenext group to follow.”

With banners hanging from R.L. “Bob” Calhoun Gymnasiumproclaiming state titles in 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1995, plus thosechampionships in 1965 and 1966, only three games separate thisedition from banner No. 5 and championship No. 7.