JEFFERSON — The John Essex ladies had their final day of practice Thursday as they put the finishing touches on their preparation for back-to-back days of games.
The girls have played only one game in each of the last two weeks and will now look to adjust to the physical wears of consecutive days of play.
“It’s tiring, but we’re ing pretty good shape,” team captain Crystal Taylor said of the girls’ conditioning. “I think we can handle it.”
The girls’ next game is scheduled to take place tonight when they travel to Dixons Mills to take on Marengo in an out-of-area contest.
“As a team, we’re moving forward. Everybody is continuing to play together and practice hard,” head coach Fentress Means said of the team’s development. “We’ve got some girls who are not starting, who are making it tough on those who are.”
“We progress everyday,” Taylor said. “They’re working harder. Their attitude is better. They’re finally understanding and grasping what coach has to say.”
Even though his girls have put together two blowout victories over A.L. Johnson, Means believes the jury is still out on the Hornets.
“I really don’t know how good we are because our two losses were against last year’s final four team (Aliceville) and the No. 5 team in 3A in Sumter County,” Means said. “I want to see how our girls are going to be able to withstand tougher competition.”
Means’ first indication of that could come as soon as this weekend’s slate of games. After taking on the Panthers, JEHS will turn around and host area rival Linden Saturday evening.
“I know they’ve got a pretty good forward,” Means said of Linden senior Meagan Hinton. “We’re going to need to be able to box her out.”
As for Means’ offensive strategy? The head coach said he is comfortable with the depth that his team boasts.
“I don’t have one ceratin person that I want to handle the ball or shoot the ball,” Means said.
The popular belief among many in the program is that the girls’ confidence level will make the biggest impact on what they are able to accomplish this season.
“It’s really big for them to believe in themselves,” Taylor said of the players that make up a very young JEHS team. Taylor and her fellow seniors also reportedly understand their role in helping to develop that confidence in their younger teammates.
“It’s really important because some are just now learning the game of basketball,” Taylor said. “So it’s up to us to step up and show them what to do.”
“I talk to them pretty much every practice and tell them to keep our goals in mind,” Means said. “One of our goals is to win all of our area games.” The next step in that quest comes Saturday when the girls game against Linden follows the B-team boys action which tips at 5:30.