JEHS girls on rebound after heartbreaker

Published 12:36 am Saturday, December 27, 2008

JEFFERSON — John Essex girls head coach Fentress Means and his team have spent the week both preparing for tonight’s trip to the A.L. Johnson Classic and attempting to shake off any lingering effects of last Friday’s heartbreaking loss to Sweet Water.

“It was a really unpleasant locker room at the end of that game,” Means said. “The girls were hurt.”

The John Essex ladies lost the game 48-47 after a rallying from behind in dramatic fashion to take the lead with 19 seconds remaining in the contest. Sweet Water won the game at the free throw line after a controversial blocking foul was called against John Essex along the sidelines with less than a second remaining in the game.

“I told them it was a close game,” Means said. “We head a controversial call at the end. I mainly put it on me and told them there were some different things I could have done.”

Means hopes his team will be able to put the loss away quickly when it returns to action tonight. The area loss was the second in as many nights for the JEHS girls, who had previously been locked in a first-place tie with Sunshine.

“The biggest thing right now is to continue working harder on the defensive end,” Means said of the girls’ focus moving forward.

Means said he has been pleased with his team’s chemistry on offense.

“We’re not selfish with the basketball at the offensive end. We don’t have selfish players,” Means said. “My main concern is on the defensive end.”

Means also said his team’s understanding of the game has improved tremendously over the season’s first month.

“A lot of this is coming with work in practice and teaching,” Means said. “That’s what I tell them is not to worry about making mistakes in practice. Let’s make them in practice so we can correct them.”

One of the obstacles facing the tam this week has been the Christmas holiday. A number of players have been traveling and otherwise engaged, a fact that has made getting in a full week of practice a near impossibility.

“It’s difficult,” Means said of coaching through the break. “What work we can get in would be a positive.”

The girls will match up with A.L. Johnson tonight during the host school’s classic. The game will be the third of the year between the two teams and will not carry with it area implications.

“We’ve beaten this team a couple times and hopefully we can come out victorious and get our girls’ confidence up,” Means said.

The girls will travel to Demopolis Saturday before taking to the floor again at Choctaw County High Monday night.