Poplarville girls basketball preparing for season

Published 3:01 pm Thursday, September 5, 2019

On a team with no seniors all of the pressure and expectations fall on the junior leaders of the Poplarville High School girls basketball team.

High school graduation leaves high school teams without veteran players.

However, for this squad and Head Coach Robin Jeffries, the challenge isn’t finding those leaders in the underclassmen.

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It’s the team’s chemistry that is still a work in progress.

“Just like any new year when you start, you’re trying to work with the chemistry of the kids,” Jeffries said.

“You’re trying to find players who will play together well, and that’s coming along.”

The squad doesn’t have as many players as they’ve had in the past, and because of that Jeffries is concerned about injuries.

For now Jeffries is putting that worry aside, and instead having her team focus on learning the game.

“We’re just trying to figure out what we do best as far as offensively and defensively,” Jeffries said.

Though there aren’t any seniors on the team, Jeffries has some experienced players at her disposal.

That includes sophomore post player Kierra Young, who Jeffries said has improved leaps and bounds over the past year.

“She really stepped up over the summer,” Jeffries said.

“She is consistent. She’s always going to step on the floor and do her best.”

Not only are the experienced players beneficial come game time, but it also impacts the way the team practices.

“They do a good job, and teach (the young players) in a positive manner,” Jeffries said.

“When kids talk to kids negatively it has a reverse effect, but my girls say it in a positive way.”

Losing a single player could negatively affect a team that is already going to be stretched thin, and the season is fast approaching.

To counter this Jeffries wants her team to be in peak physical shape, which is something the team will have to continue to work on.

“We aren’t where we need to be as a conditioned basketball team,” Jeffries said.

“We need to be more in shape because the players are going to stay on the court a lot longer than I’d like them to.”

Conditioning isn’t the only thing the team has been focusing on.

Jeffries said that the athletes have done a good job honing their skills whether it be passing, shooting, or technique defensively.

There’s plenty of time to do that during the 80-minute practice Jeffries and her athletes participate in.

Jeffries approaches practice in a unique way.

Instead of spending half of the practice working on one specific drill, she’ll have her athletes cycle through drills at a rapid pace.

No drill can last longer than eight minutes, and Jeffries said this is because it helps keep the players focused.

Jeffries keeps the practices fast paced and varied, which makes it a more enjoyable experience for the athletes.

As the season draws closer Jeffries will use the practices as a way to assign players to certain roles, and make sure that they understand each one is uniquely vital to the team’s success.

“Every role is different and important,” Jeffries said.

“It’s the small things that matter.”