Thursday, July 19, 2012
Young MA girls take big step
By BARRY BURLESON
The Marshall Academy girls basketball team gained some confidence last week.
The Lady Patriots, competing in the Madison Ridgeland Academy Camp, got wins over Brookhaven, Delta, Winston, North Delta, MRA and Marvell.
“Beating some traditional powers such as Brookhaven and Delta was a big step for this young group,” coach Craig Dailey said. “These programs are not where they once were, but it was still a testament to where we have the girls program headed.”
The biggest win of the week, he said, came over District 1-AA rival North Delta.
“Most have them (the Lady Green Wave) as preseason number one in our conference,” Dailey said. “Knocking them off gives us a lot of momentum as we prepare for the coming season.”
The MA starting lineup included one senior (Megan Watkins), a junior (Elizabeth Skelton), one sophomore (Wesleyann Ray), a freshman (Codie Robertson) and an eighth grader (Blake Martin).
The coach said those five are working hard and getting better.
“Elizabeth has picked up where she left off at North State – hitting on all cylinders,” Dailey said. “I am extremely proud of the development she has made as a player. She showed star-type potential and was unstoppable at times.
“Megan had a great camp. She gives us a hard-nosed, scrappy defender, rebounder, and basketball-seasoned athlete. She is just touching what she is capable of.
“Codie was a force at times in the post on offense and defense. Her perimeter shot has extremely improved. She and Blake played way beyond their years.
“Blake lit it up at times and did a tremendous job handling the ball versus some of the best on the ball defenders in the MAIS (Mississippi Association of Independent Schools).
“I can’t wait to see how good Blake and Codie can be. They have a chance to be as good as I have had.
“Wesleyann has developed into a great spot shooter and solid defender. She really came on as the week went along.”
Also participating in the MRA Camp were younger Marshall Academy players Abby Sanders (a seventh grader) and Mary Neely Jones (a sixth grader).
“They had solid B-team minutes and gained a lot from the week of work versus high school competition,” Dailey said.
He had coaching help from Andy Burleson, a recent graduate of MA.
“I want to thank Andy for serving as my assistant last week and helping me by coaching the B-team,” Dailey said. “He did a tremendous job and I’m going to really miss him next year.”
Burleson will be attending the University of Southern Mississippi and majoring in sports coaching education.
It was a fun week, too, the coach emphasized.
“The girls and I had a fun-filled week off the court, playing Phase 10, going to the movies and our traditional outing at Bonsai,” Dailey said. “It gives us a chance to bond as a team and for them to see me in a different setting than on the sideline. It was a special time with the kids.”
He said the Lady Patriots left the camp a better team – physically and mentally.
“We walked away realizing that we have a chance to compete for a district title for sure and possibly even more, if we continue to work and develop,” the coach said.
“These ladies are going to give it their all every night. I am extremely excited to see what they can accomplish.”
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