By Thomas Sellers Jr.
When a first-year head coach is working with a roster that only has two seniors, you have to experiment in order to create a winning culture.
Millington Lady Trojans Head Coach Nick Buford left the William Osteen Gymnasium Friday night a little perplex. Prior to tipoff with the Haywood Lady Tomcats, Buford and his girls made it a point to get mentally ready for the District 15-2A contest.
By the time of the final buzzer, Haywood was leaving the court victorious 54-35. Meanwhile Buford was getting ready to head back to the drawing board.
“Honestly we tried to do things to make us more focused,” he noted. “We had shoot around for about an hour just walking through things. We another shoot around just getting up game-shots and stretching.
“We were locked in and focused, so we thought,” Buford continued. “What I notice tonight was lack of execution as far from a scouting report standpoint. Everything was written down that we wanted to execute. But taking it to the floor became the issue. I can take some positives. Overall from the free throw line we shot well. In the first half we were 8 of 9 which is a plus. But our transition defense and offense helped them out a lot tonight.”
In half court sets, the Lady Trojans were more successful throughout the night. But Haywood made a living with transition baskets and forcing Millington to make errors on its fast breaks.
The Lady Tomcats were ahead 7-4 after one quarter. Millington tied the game early in the second quarter when Jontavia Bonner drained a three-pointer to make the tally 7-7.
Haywood proceeded with a run starting with a jumper by Anteniyah Washington. Lady Tomcat Mecasia Taylor contributed with layup to help Haywood build a lead. Later in the first half Haywood’s Shakinan Tisdale hit a three-pointer making the tally 30-15 at the break.
Millington senior Jamiya Turner tried to spark her squad with a put-back bucket, layup and three-pointer in the second half. But Haywood outscored Millington 24-20 to earn the league win.
Buford said the experience and physical maturity of the Lady Tomcats continued a trend his team has endure all district season.
“That’s been the key in the last three or four loses that we’ve played very mature teams,” he said. “That’s not an excuse. But it is what it is.
“I look forward to us maturing but at the sam time I want us to grow up a little bit now – mentally,” Buford concluded. “I want to grow up now. Pressure does two things. I try to tell them, ‘Let’s go be the better of the two.’ Let’s be diamonds instead of pipes.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.