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December 11, 2019     The Monroe County Reporter
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December II, 2019 By Ridlard Dumas torsyth@mymcr.net One year after suffering through what is believed to be the only winless carn- paign in Mary Persons girls basketball history in 2018- 19, the Lady Dogs are looking for a more enjoyable season in 2019-20. Led by third-year head coach Lamon McElhaney, MP, 2—5 overall (0-2 in Region 2-AAAA), won two of its first three games in 2019—20, beating Taylor County and Tattnall Square last month. McElhaney said the team’s lone goal this year was to win one game, so he was pleasantly surprised by the fast start. “Coming from where we came from, I think it’s a good feeling for the program as a_ whole,” McElhaney said of the early season success. “Because last year was tough. We not only lost, but we were getting hammered almost ev- ery game. One game we lost by single digits. One game we lost by 13. Every other game was like 25 or more. So it was good. But it was a teachable moment for them (MP play- ers) in both of the wins that we’ve had because we didn’t finish either game well. But that came from not winning. So if you don’t win, you don’t know how to win. So they’ve got to learn stuff like that. Not only was it good for the older girls, it was really good for the younger girls because they’re going to be the ones that can keep this thing going and maybe we can win six or seven games, or maybe eight or nine, I don’t know. The process has to start some- where, and I’m just glad it’s started.” McElhaney said he could sense a renewed energy from his team over the summer that has carried into the regu- lar season. “I’m happy with the pro- gram as a whole, with the girls as a whole, and with the progress they’re making,” McElhaney said. “It’s the level of excitement‘and energy. They seem to be having fun, not just playing basketball, but they seem to be having fun with each other.” Although they’re not playing big varsity minutes yet, McElhaney credits his three varsity freshmen, Miah Barkley, Kate McAteer and Jamiya Zellner, with bring- ing a youthful spirit that has permeated his entire squad “They bring a different vibe, a different feel, a different energy,” McElhaney said. “It’s that youth and a whole lot of fight that we didn’t necessar- ily have last year. But I can see it throughout this year.” McElhaney will rely on five varsity returners in the start— ing lineup. Senior and four- year starter Taylor Buflington, who tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) late last sea- son, opened the season as the . We are Bquogs! Dad, Mam, _» Abbie and Ford team’s starting point guard However, Buffington report- edly left the program over the weekend, leaving a void in the backcourt. Also starting in MP’s three-guard lineup is another senior, shooting guard Tysheeka Hart, and junior shooting guard I’Mya Mann. McElhaney said he’s counting on Mann to give him double figure scoring nights this season. Starting for MP at power forward is another senior and four-year player, Katelyn Wil- son, who excels at rebound- ing and other hustle plays. McElhaney said of Wilson: “I know what I’m going to get from her every time she’s out there. She fouled out of the game the other day for the first time in a while, but that’s her. She’s going to play fast. She probably ain’t always going to be right, but I don’t have to worry about her giv— ing everything she’s got on offense, defense, transition.” At center, MP will turn to sophomore Tatiyanna Brown, whom McElhaney said he will feature on offense in the post more this season than a amfiorter Lady Dogs pursue path to sustained success year ago. “We’ve been forcing and stressing and almost de- manding to try to go a little old school, work it inside- out,” McElhaney said. “Be- cause we haven’t been very ’ good we’ve got to find ways to slow the game down. And one way to slow it down is to get it inside. That’ll take a few seconds off, and maybe we’ll get an easy basket, maybe we’ll get a foul. Find ways to have everybody contribute in our offense.” Providing needed depth off the bench is senior shoot- ing guard Precious Gaines, sophomore wing Kenia Thomas and junior center Taylor Shortt. McElhaney said the biggest thing for all of his players is to find multiple things they can excel at doing on the floor. “Every game ain’t going to be great when you’re shoot- ing the ball,” McElhaney said But I’ve got to get everyone to understand when it ain’t working, ‘C’mon now. It’s still defense. It’s still rebounding. You can set good screens. You can hustle.’ I’ve got to get the girls to understand you’ve got more than one role, more than one job.” McElhaney said last year’s AAAA state runner-up Spalding and last year’s Region 2-AAAA runner- up West Laurens are again expected to be the top teams in the region, and they’ve al— ready dealt MP big setbacks. MP fell 60-36 at Spalding in its region opener on Tues- day, Dec. 3. The Lady Dogs were then throttled 66-21 at home by the Lady Raiders on Friday. McElhaney said for MP to get its first region win since 2017-18, the Lady Dogs will likely need a much better than normal shooting night. He said, “Two years ago we won a region game. We surprised and beat Perry, a team that made the playoffs. So I mean that was huge. I think we scored 56 points that night, and we hadn’t ' scored 50 all year. So it might take one of those games.” With MP having suffered a fourth straight loss, 48-24 at non-region FPD on Satur- day, that has put a damper on its early-season success, MP JV Basketball Schedule DATE Dec. 13 Dec. 14 Dec. 16 Dec. 18 Dec. Jan. Jan. Jan. Jan. Jan. Jan. Jan. Jan. Jan. Jan. Jan. Jan. Jackson Griffin Hampton Westside Upson-Lee Perry Howard Spalding Howard Upson-Lee Jackson Perry Griffin OPPONENT Tattnall Square Stockbridge Taylor County West Laurens LOCATION Away Home Home Away Away Away Away Away Away Away Away Away Home Home Away Home Away TIME (3-3245 p.m., B-4:45 p.m. B-4:30 p.m. B-6z45 pm. 3-7 pm. G'4t30 p.m. G-3z30 p.m., B—4:45 p.m. 6-11 am, B-12:15 p.m. G-4zl5 pm. 8-4115 p.m. G-4z30 p.m. B-4:15 p.m. G—4:30 p.m. B-6z45 p.m. G-3z30 p.m., B-4:45 p.m. B-4z30 p.m. G-4zl5 p.m. B-6:45 p.m. MP Varsity Basketball Schedule DATE Dec. 13 Dec. l4 Dec. 20-21 Dec. 27-30 Jan. 3 Jan. Jan. Jan. 10 Jan. 14 Jan. 17 Jan. 2T Jan. 24 Jan. 25 Jan. 28 Jan. 3T Feb. 3—7 Feb. l4-15 Feb. 19-20 Feb. 25-26 Feb. 29 Mar. 4-7 Jackson Westside Perry’ Howard' Spalding’ Jackson Perry’ OPPONENT Tattnall Square Upson-Lee’ West Laurens’ Upson-Lee’ Howardt ' Region 2-AAAA Tourney TBD (1 st Round State) TBD (2nd Round State) TBD (Quarterfinals State) TBD TBD (Semifinals State) TBD (Finals State) LOCATION Away Home War Eagle Holiday (Boys) Woodward MP Holiday Classic Taylor County MP Away Away Away Away Away Away Away Home Away Home Home Howard TBD TBD TBD TBD ’ Denotes Region 2-AAAA contest I . proud (.6ti and th Whatever you do, work at it With all your heart, as working forth L rd, not for human masters. _, olossians 3. 1y, «0 m 2.4,» .3 filig‘ggjwmmw v‘tMt-zz Wit-r.” .3 Vi". WNW! .u "5‘ Ev. ‘ TIME G-b p.m., B-7:3O p.m. G-b p.m., B-7z30 p.m. TBA TBA G-é p.m., B-7:3O p.m. (3-2 p.m., B-3z30 p.m. G-b p.m., B-7z30 p.m. G-6 p.m., B-7i30 p.m. G-b p.m., B-7z30 p.m. G-é p.m., 3—7230 p.m. (3-6 p.m., B-7z30 p.m. G-b p.m., B-7:30 p.m. G-b p.m., B-7:30 p.m. G-é p.m., B-7:30 p.m. G-b p.m., B-7:30 p.m. TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD McElhaney said he’s going to be realistic about his team’s chances this year. “The goal was to win more than we did last year, and we’ve already done that.” he said. “And now the next goal is to win more than we did the year before, which was three games. We’ve just got to try to get four. Ifwe can, get four, the goal is going to always change. But it’s kind of hard to set a bar because it’s going to be tough coaching, it’s going to be tough playing when we haven’t been in a lot of situations to win games. So it’s going to be tough to kind of set a bar. But I’d love to win more games than we have.” The Lady Dogs were next scheduled to host non-region Page SB Northeast (Macon) at 6 pm. on Tuesday, Dec. 10. MP will then travel to non-region Tattnall Square to face the Lady Trojans in a rematch at 6 pm. on Friday before returning home to host non- region rival Jackson at 6 pm. on Saturday. Meanwhile, the IV Lady Dogs were slated to host Northeast (Macon) at 4:15 pm. on Tuesday, Dec. 10. The MP W will then travel to Tattnall Square for a road contest at 3:45 pm. on Friday. Also, the Monroe County Middle School girls basketball team will next host Clifton Ridge at 5 pm. on Thursday The C-Team Lady Dogs will then host Gray Station at 5 pm. on Tuesday, Dec. 17. Congratutatiows 0% (ALL of gear accomplishmwts. We are so proud of gout Melee gow senior season 50w Best! we Love govt, Aunt Lac g the Crew 'shoot for gear dreams g the rest Witt foLLow.‘