Lady Bobcats seek third straight state title
Written By: Shawn Wansley
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date Submitted: 2010-10-29 13:18:34
By Shawn Wansley
JCJC Sports Information Director
ELLISVILLE – The Jones County Junior College Lady Bobcats have been about as good as they can be for the past two seasons.
Head coach Sandra Sumrall has guided the JCJC women’s team to back-to-back MACJC state championships.
But if the Lady Bobcats are to earn a ‘three-peat’ they will have to do it with several new players.
“We are so, so young,” said Sumrall, who enters her 12th year as the JCJC women’s head coach and led the Lady Bobcats to a 22-6 record last year. “We’ve got three returning sophomores and only one is a starter. We have to grow up quickly.”
Two-year standouts Ashley Lee, Erica Moore, Brigit Taylor and Dominique Evans played on both state title teams and have graduated.
There are ten freshmen on the Lady Bobcat roster to go with the three returning sophomores and one transfer.
But the lone returning starter is a quality player.
Jackson Murrah sophomore guard Tanecka Carey averaged 21.3 points per game last year. That led the state and ranked third in the nation. The 5-foot-9 standout has already committed to the University of Southern Mississippi.
She was a first-team All-MACJC and All-Region 23 player as a freshman.
“Tanecka has developed so much, not only with her shooting ability, but with her leadership,” Sumrall said. “She is a team leader on the court and off the court and I’m very proud of that. Having a good leader is so important.”
The other returning sophomores are Candice Little (5-4) from Lawrence County and Kianna Harris (5-7) from Jackson Provine.
“Candice plays hard and loves the game,” Sumrall said. “We call her ‘Miss Hustle’ because she probably has the best hustle on the team. Kianna is stepping up and playing better defense. She is aggressive, shoots the ball well and can play the ‘2’ or ‘3’ for us.”
The sophomore transfer is Mechel’Le Thomas, a 5-foot-3 point guard from East St. John High School in New Orleans. She played at Trinity Valley Junior College in Texas last year.
“Mechel’Le will be running the point for us,” Sumrall said. “She has some great moves, reads the court well and is really quick.”
Three players from last year’s MHSAA 5A state championship team will play key roles for the Lady Bobcats. Twins Tierro Frost (5-9) and Kierro Frost (5-8), along with Lauren Douglas (5-6), all played for the Wayne County Lady War Eagles last year.
“Obviously, they all come from a great program,” Sumrall said. “Lauren has a lot of heart and desire and is a great shooter. She has the capacity to make an impact as a good 3-point shooter for us. She has a great attitude.
“Tierro will be playing the ‘3’ forward for us. She does the little things well and will possibly start. Kierro may not be as quick as Tierro and will probably be a backup at the ‘3’ position. She can come in there and we will not miss a beat.”
In addition to Thomas, the Lady Bobcats have several other players who can play the point.
Kaci McCurdy (5-2) from Bay Springs, Alondra Rivers (5-6) from Southwest Dekalb High School in Decatur, Ga., Ileshia Preston (5-5) from Sumrall and Sharnay Mills (5-4) from Lumberton can all handle the ball.
“Kaci is short, but she is so quick, has great desire and plays hard,” Sumrall said. “Alondra is another quick point guard and comes from a three-time, high school state championship team. Winning championships is something that is hard to teach.
“Ileshia is a very quick athlete. She can bring the ball down the court and she can play defense. Sharnay is a quick guard that plays intense defense and will be a good player for us.”
A versatile player for JCJC will be Alecia Autman (5-10) from Brandon.
“Alecia can play the ‘3’ or ‘4’ and can play inside or outside,” she said. “She is coming off two knee surgeries and is getting back in the swing of it. Again, another athletic player.”
The Lady Bobcats will utilize the services of two players inside.
Elyssa McKenzie (6-1) from Quitman and Monte Brewer (6-0), who is from Little Rock, Ark., and played at Oak Grove, will give the Lady Bobcats strength in the post.
“Elyssa has been a nice surprise,” Sumrall said. “She plays the ‘5” and is a really strong player. She is not scared to go inside and play tough. She will be an impact player in the post.
“Monte will be a force to be reckoned with down the road after she gets some experience. She is very strong and is not bashful about taking it to the goal.”
Sumrall believes her team can be very competitive, but they will have to grow up quickly because of their inexperience.
“I think the ‘freshmen-itis’ could be a problem early on for us,” she said. “That first game will be an eye opener for them. It’s going to be a much more physical game than they are used to and they are going to get banged around a lot.”
Sumrall, who also guided the Lady Bobcats to a state championship in 2000, points to defense as being a huge factor for the team to be successful.
“Our defense is the thing,” she said. “Everybody on this level can play. In high school, it’s usually one or two players you have to worry about on the other team, but up here you have to worry about everybody.
“But I really like our quickness. We may be quicker than we have been in the past, but we just need to learn to control it.”
In the South Division, Sumrall points to defending Region 23 champion Co-Lin as being a top contender. The Lady Wolves, who went 31-2 last year and lost to the Lady Bobcats in the state championship game, are ranked No. 4 in the NJCAA preseason poll.
“Co-Lin got some great recruits in addition to what they already had and they will be a team to be reckoned with again,” she said. “They will be a dominant team for sure. But everybody in the league will be recharging and will be competitive.”
The Lady Bobcats face East Mississippi Community College at 5:30 p.m. on Monday in A.B. Howard Gymnasium in the season opener. The Lady Lions won the region two years ago and eliminated the Lady Bobcats in the regional last year.
Sumrall expects quite a challenge for her young squad.
“East Mississippi has several returning players and it will be an eye opener for our team,” she said. “We are going to have to grow up quickly.
“But the attitude is great, the hustle is great and the girls are working hard.”
Shara Johnson serves as a graduate assistant for the Lady Bobcats. Brent Hobbs is a student assistant.
All JCJC home division games will be televised on www.jcjc.tv, while all division games and other selected games will be broadcast (audio only) on the same site. Lance Pittman and Mark Easley will provide the call on the games.
In addition, the “JCJC Basketball Media Day Special” will be posted shortly on the www.jcjc.tv website.