By Marco Clark, exclusive to the Times
The Lady Chiefs continued to show dominance on the basketball court after going undefeated during the City of Lights tournament. Tuesday night was a coming out party for the their regular season record. Coach Nikki Jones has not taken a step back after graduating one of her best classes that featured All-State player Jolie Williams. Coach Jones is using an assortment of young, talented players with the stronghold upperclassmen to come at the opposing team.
Coach Jones’s one constant that has not and will never change is a strong presence on defense. Picking up action in the first half, the Lady Chiefs jumped out to 8-0 lead before the Lady Mustangs’ coach called a timeout. “Why are you playing scared? Settle down and play Avoyelles basketball,” she said. However, the Lady Mustangs could not keep up with the constant stranglehold the Lady Chiefs employed during the first four minutes of the first quarter.
This in turn resulted in 12 turnovers, eight of which NCHS converted into points. The Lady Chiefs Teanna Payton went on a tear, scoring 12 points in the first. Junti Franklin added seven points and three assists, Breanna Williams added four points and Abrionna Kennedy had 2 points to clinch a 25-7 lead. The start of the second quarter was much of the same. The NCHS bench spelled the starters, but play did not drop off. The Lady Chiefs continued to press on defense which caused turnover after turnover for the Lady Mustangs. Avoyelles players were frustrated and seemed to have given up.
Their coach put her younger players in the game with instructions to, “Protect the ball on offense and play better defense when they have possession of the ball.” To their credit they tried but the Lady Mustangs could not keep up. The Lady Chiefs continued to expand their lead to 44-10 at the end of the first half. At the start of the second half, Coach Jones gave her reserve players court time.
Coach Jones said, “When our younger players, ninth and 10th graders, face other junior varsity teams their skillsets are somewhat similar, but when our starters on varsity establish a comfortable lead we can afford to allow our less experienced players to gain experience against other teams starters, therefore when an injury occurs or I may need to make a substitution because my starter is having a bad night, the reserve players won’t be intimidated. They will be able to step in and play well until the starter can return.”
The Lady Chiefs enjoyed a final score of 66-25. Leading scorers were Teanna Payton with 16, ReRe Bowers with 13 and Junti Franklin with 10.