Opening with a flurry

Published 9:05 pm Tuesday, December 7, 2010

After a difficult 2009-2010 season that saw an already young team struggle with a costly series of injuries, the Lady Tigers have roared out of the gate this fall.

The early surge has seen the Demopolis High School girls basketball team put together an unblemished record through the first five games.

The latest in that quintet of wins came last Friday night when Demopolis opened its region schedule with a win over Wilcox-Central.

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“We just jumped all over them and never looked back,” Demopolis head coach Tony Pittman said of the win over the Lady Jaguars.

The Lady Tigers’ ability to open quickly has been aided by the installation of Jonniece Collins as the team’s starting point guard. Collins’ quick first step combined with her speed and quickness has helped add an explosive element to the Lady Tigers’ backcourt.

She works in tandem with reserve point guard Megin Smith, who complements Collins with a more methodical style of play.

“Jonniece is energy. Megin is more of the coach on the floor for us,” Pittman said of the contrast in styles between his two point guards.

In addition to the backcourt efforts of Collins and Smith, the Lady Tigers have seen improved play from its pair of six-feet tall post players Breanna Jones and Shadijiah Moore.

“They are better than last year, still needing a little more work. We’re working on positioning down low,” Pittman said of the junior tandem. “That is something we’re going to get going if we’re going to be successful. I don’t think we’re going to face anybody as big as we are. But being big and not being productive is not going to cut it.”

Pittman also indicated that the team has gotten strong production from its bench, which has seen Tee Perkins and Katrina Benison come off the pine along with Smith to log quality minutes.

Still, the biggest difference between the 2009-2010 Lady Tigers and the team that has found success in the early going this season may just be senior forward Kierra Carter.

“Kierra has been able to go from the three position to the four and that’s helped us a lot,” Pittman said of the versatility of Carter, a player who missed much of the last two seasons with knee injuries. “She’s made a tremendous difference in just the leadership alone. She missed about a year and a half with knee injuries.

“She sees the floor so well. She sees things before they happen,” Pittman continued. “She has been our most productive player so far. She is averaging double figures every night. If we can get her going, everybody else will follow suit.”

But as much as the personnel has made a difference for the team, Pittman said one of the biggest improvements for the team has been its attitude.

“Our kids have really bought into the system,” Pittman said. “We just want to be consistent night in and night out.”

Achieving that desired level of consistency means the Lady Tigers will need continued improvement as they get ready for the meat of their schedule.

“We’re still trying to get better as a squad,” Pittman said. “Getting everything going and putting everything together is our biggest problem.”

Demopolis hosts Greenville Friday night at 5 p.m.