Poplarville basketball going back to basics

Published 7:00 am Saturday, October 19, 2019

Practice sessions have just started for the Lady Hornets basketball team and even though the season’s start is months away, the pace of practice is high.

The players went through multiple ball handling drills, including an exercise in which the athletes were instructed to close their eyes while dribbling two balls simultaneously.

That drill took place with the athletes sitting on the floor level bleachers, but the next exercise would incorporate movement.

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The athletes were tasked with traversing the entire length of the court and back while dribbling two balls simultaneously without looking down.

These exercises are meant to improve the players’ ball handling skills, and the next drill continued to work that principle.

The athletes were set up in several positions around the gym.

One player was under the basket to get the rebound, and then there was a player outside the three point line, about even with the free throw line.

Once the rebound was secured an outlet pass would be made to the player on the three-point line, then the two players would spring down the court.

The player who rebounded the ball made the long trek to the paint, and then received the ball in stride from her teammate.

Once the lay up went in, the players repeated the whole process in the opposite way.

For two minutes this high paced drill took place and by the end of it the athletes appeared ready for a break.

They got one, just a single minute to get a drink of water and catch their breath, before they’d head back onto the court for  the remaining hour and a half of their practice.

Head Coach Robin Jeffries runs her practices at a frenetic pace not only to keep the athletes focused, but also so the players can improve their conditioning.

Being a fundamentally sound basketball team is Jeffries’ objective, and she said her players need to understand the game of basketball.

“I’m a real proponent of trying to teach the kids how to play, and not just mold them into an offense or defense. I have them going through drills where they actually understand the game, so they can just go out and play,” Jeffries said.

The practices are changing slightly as the team prepares for it’s first competitive match up at the Moss Point Jamboree on Oct. 26. There are no seniors on the squad so Jeffries is counting on her younger players to step up, such as sophomores Tytiana Buckley and Kiara Young, who have both embraced leadership roles.

Team chemistry has been an area of focus for Jeffries, and she said this year’s team is a close-knit group.

“We have some time in the locker room and have team meetings. We try not to leave until everything is alright,” Jeffries said.

With the beginning of the season drawing near, Jeffries has begun implementing offensive and defensive strategies into the practices, while also having the players work on their shooting. “Our shooting percentage was really low. We didn’t get our best points in the paint last year, and this year we’re going to do that,” Jeffries said.

The team will start on the road this season. That will be a common theme for the Hornets as they only have six home games scheduled for the regular season. “We’re going to be road warriors. It’s going to be tough for us to be on the road that much, and I think that could be a negative for us,” Jeffries said.