Poplarville basketball working through adversity

Published 7:00 am Friday, January 31, 2020

The Poplarville Lady Hornets basketball team fell to the Greene County Lady Wildcats 55-27 on Jan. 29.

The home turf defeat gave the Lady Hornets a district record of 3-4, which is currently good enough for the number four seed in the district.

Head Coach Robin Jeffries said her players struggled with handling the Lady Wildcats’ full court press, which hindered Poplarville’s ability to put points on the board.

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However, even with the score not being in favor of Poplarville, Jeffries said her players never quit during the district loss.

“One positive thing was the girls did not give up. They continually played hard even when they had every reason to give up, but they didn’t,” Jeffries said.

The high press fatigued the Lady Hornets, and with minimal depth the players struggled in the second half to keep pace.

Poplarville doesn’t have a lot of players, so when teams implement a high press it can cause the athletes who have been on the court for significant minutes to tire.

Jeffries said the team’s practices don’t have the same intensity as the games.

When the time comes to compete there’s a disconnect with what the players are used to in practice compared to the game day environment.

“The intensity in practice is half of what we see in game and it’s very difficult to transform from what you’ve done in practice to the game,” Jeffries said.

The Lady Hornets also have a young team with the majority of the players being underclassmen.

Each player has varying levels of experience, but when the Hornets go up against teams who have veteran players the problems are magnified.

Only more minutes on the court will translate into the team gaining experience and understanding how to play basketball as a group.

“We could have juniors that are playing against 8th graders and freshmen, and the experience is such a huge gap between our groups. We’ve been battling that since day one,” Jeffries said.

Poplarville only has three games left in the season and they’re all against district opponents.

Next up on the schedule for the Lady Hornets is the Stone County Lady Tomcats.

The last three games of the season will determine what seed the Lady Hornets have going into the district tournament and Jeffries has a distinct idea of what she’d like her team to accomplish.

“What I would really like to see is for us to take third or fourth place for our tournament, and then see us advance to the first round of the playoffs,” Jeffries said.

For recent matchups Jeffries has simplified the game plan for her players.

The team sticks to one style of defense and doesn’t run many set plays on offense.

This lessens the mental aspect of basketball and lets the players compete without strategy at the forefront of their mind.

Jeffries said she’d continue with that trend as the season winds down because of her team’s youth.

“If we were older and understood the game a little more I would love to change it up, but right now I think that would hurt us,” Jeffries said. Tipoff against the Lady Tomcats is set for 6 p.m. on Jan. 31.