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Wesson Cobras look for turn-around year

The bad news for the Wesson boys’ basketball team in 2016-2017 was that the Cobras finished the season with a losing record. The good news is that could mean a pile of wins this season for the team. Twice in head coach Rusty Newman’s tenure at the school a losing record has been followed immediately by a season with 20 or more wins.

Newman sees experienced returnees at every spot on the floor. Senior Dell Thigpen, a standout in football and track, returns to run the point guard spot. Thigpen will be counted on to push the tempo and to get the ball inside to forward Kenner Bizot. A sophomore, Bizot averaged eight points per game as a freshman and is considered the most effective inside threat the Cobras possess. On the wings Newman returns two crucial pieces in juniors JD Allen (12 ppg) and Shemar Dickerson (14 ppg). With no overwhelming height, Newman expects his team to be one of the quickest in the area. A summer season of camps and practice games helped him identify one glaring weakness in his group, consistency.

“This summer we’d beat a really good team one day and later in the day lose to a team not nearly as good,” said Newman. “We have a few seniors, but this team is mostly made up of sophomores and juniors and they’ve still got some learning to do when it comes to knowing what it takes to win night in and night out.”

Moving into a district with Columbia, Tylertown and Seminary presents its own challenges. Newly created Jefferson Davis County High School (formed from the merger of Bassfield and Prentiss) would look to be a district favorite after hiring former longtime Columbia head coach Tony Woody to lead their program.

“We’ve got some experience playing West Marion over the years and they’ll be in our district. Tylertown is somebody that we’ve seen plenty of in summer camps and leagues. There isn’t much I know about the other new district teams, but I’m going to go do plenty of scouting ahead of district play to prepare us,” said Newman.

The Wesson girls’ team had what can only be described as an extremely difficult season last year. The Lady Cobras finished 2-21 in head coach Candice McDuffey’s debut season. In 2017-2018 McDuffefy will dress out nine players and a lack of depth will dictate the Lady Cobras’ style of play.

“Ideally, you’d like to pressure the ball and play up and down, but with our numbers we’ll try and dictate a slower pace on most nights,” said McDuffey.

The small roster is also devoid of seniors, but McDuffey sees great promise in a couple of her underclassmen.

“Shelbi Maxwell (soph.) and Alissa Coone (jr.) are two players who have been scoring the ball well for us over the course of summer camp and on into practice,” said McDuffey. “We know that we’re moving into a district with some teams that are usually very athletic, such as Columbia and Tylertown, but my girls are working hard, and they are building something for the future.”

An eighth grade class that is one of the best in the area is one thing about the future of Lady Cobras basketball that McDuffey is excited about.