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Defense top priority for Lions girls

Defense will be ahead of offense this season for the Halifax County Middle School girls basketball team, at least for the first few weeks of the season, according to Head Coach James Smith.

Two starters return, Sierra Nunn and Brittany Clark, both of whom are three-year players who will serve as co-captains for the team.

Other returning players are Aliyah Chandler, Jalisa Brooks, Nichole Gillard, Tamiara Logan, Akiah Clauden and Tiara Martin.

Newcomers include Lauryn Easley, Deaundra Jeffress, Gracie Lankford, Dezheona Mitchell, Casey Pulliam, Jeri Lynn Tyler and Ayshia Williams.

Smith likes what he sees from the team thus far in terms of talent, size and experience.

“I have several returning players from last year, so I have a little experience, and they look good in practice,” Smith explained.

“We have a little height, and I think our strong point is probably going to be on the defensive side. The girls are quick and have experience and size, so I’ll be disappointed if we don’t play a little defense.

“We lost some good players,” Smith continued, “but with a little work we’ll be all right. By the time we get to the playoffs, I think we’ll be a pretty good team, and I’ll know more about my team around the Christmas holidays, because we will have played everybody once.”

Smith, is counting on leadership from inside (Nunn) and outside (Clark) to lead his team.

“It’s a good group of girls,” Smith pointed out.

“They’re working hard in practice, and they’re showing up with good attitudes. We’ll probably go as far as Sierra and Brittany take us, but if the other girls around them, if they chip in and do their job, we’ll be pretty good.

“Our offense hasn’t come around yet, but our defense is pretty good,” he added.

Halifax County Middle School starts its season Thursday with a non-conference game against Bonner Middle School, followed by the Southside Middle School Conference opener at Park View Middle School.

“It’s good we’re playing a non-conference game first, and we don’t have a game for about two weeks before conference play.

“I think around Christmas everybody will know what they have to do, and I’m hoping we’ll be pretty good by tournament time.”

Nothing will change in Smith’s coaching philosophy, as the Lions still will employ a trapping defense that creates turnovers and easy baskets in transition.

“In middle school ball, you won’t score a lot of points in your half court game unless you have a dominating player inside,” explained Smith.

“If you don’t run and get easy baskets, you won’t score much. You might have a game in middle school where you’re knocking down outside shots and a game where you aren’t.

“We need to get some steals and some easy baskets, and if we do that, we’ll be all right,” added Smith. 

“I’m optimistic, we have a good enough team to compete with everybody.”