Jacket girls look for consistency, confidence

  • Thursday, December 26, 2013

North Augusta High School's Tempestt Key goes for a loose ball while sandwiched by C.A. Johnson's Jenee Melton, left, and Demeatrius Bryant. Star File Photo

Head coach Crystal Cummings knows her team has potential – but the thing holding them back may actually be themselves.

The North Augusta girls basketball team split another week, moving the team’s record to 3-7. Against Strom Thurmond the team had a dominant effort over an overmatched opponent, winning 61-18 in Johnston. Mallory Stone had 15 points to lead the team, and she was followed by Ja’Lyn and Sierra Sanders, both of whom had 12. Alexus Williams also reached double-digits with 10 points.

Against Greenbrier the team fell 68-44. Stone and Ja’Lyn Sanders both had 11 points, with Sanders also draining three 3-pointers.

“We came out aggressive against Strom Thurmond and we knew the opponent struggled against our full-court press just a few days before,” Cummings said. “We also put in some new things on the offensive side of the ball to prepare ourselves for the Greenbrier game. Everything went well against Thurmond, but in the Greenbrier game we got out of our press. Greenbrier pushed the ball up the court a little bit quicker than we were anticipating from the first time we played them.”

Cummings said that by the time her Jackets fell out of the press in the first quarter that her girls were “less aggressive than they were in the Strom Thurmond game.”

The problem, Cummings said, isn’t from the offensive side. She pointed out that the Sanders sisters have both consistently given the team double-digit points. The team also has Cydney Mathews, who Cummings said “can score in double figures at any moment.”

“We have the scoring, we just have to pick up our defense. It’s more relaxed than it needs to be sometimes,” Cummings said. “We have to play all-out, going after 50-50 balls and hustling 110 percent at all times.”

It also isn’t the conditioning, as Cummings noted that her practices are oftentimes likened to track for basketball players.

“They have it in them, you can ask a number of them on any given day what we do in practice,” she said. “They would probably say run, run, run.”

What may be the biggest issue for the team, Cummings said, is on the mental end and psychologically.

“I think it’s more of you know you have Greenbrier and you know they’re a tough opponent,” she said. “I think they may psych themselves out a little bit. They say ‘Greenbrier is good at this, and they’re good at this, and we’re not going to jump all over them with the press and flying everywhere for every steal.’ So, I honestly think it’s mental and they take themselves out of the game a little bit before it begins. Then when Greenbrier goes on a 6-0 run it’s like ‘oh man, I knew they were this tough.’ They psych themselves out of what they’re capable of doing.”

Next up for North Augusta will be the Lake Marion Invitational Tourney, just like their counterparts on the boys’ side. First opponent will be Battery Creek, from Beaufort, on Thursday.

Scott Rodgers is the news editor at the North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since January 2013 after previously working at the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter @NAStarRodgers.

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