Lady Tigers answer questions at camp
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
It probably was not the first time he has been asked the question and it certainly will not be the last time T.R. Miller Lady Tigers basketball coach Ron Jackson hears it between now and the start of next season.
"Who will replace Ashley Samuel's leadership and the 24 points a game she averaged last season?"
Granted, the Lady Tigers do have two very big shoes to fill for a player who was named the state's Class 3A Player of the Year two seasons in a row.
Then again, perhaps the Lady Tigers eased some of those doubts with their performance at last weekend's T.R. Miller Summer Tournament.
"I think we'll probably be a more balanced team next season. I think we'll make up those points by just having everybody else do a little bit more," Jackson said. "I think (junior) Joy McCorvey is capable of averaging 20 to 25 points per game. (Junior) Jasmine Sanford is capable of averaging about 15 a game and (senior) Keonshaye Lane can give us about 10 a game. (Junior) Krystle Smith is more of a defensive specialist, but we should be able to get five, six, maybe eight points a game or so from her. If we get all that, we should be just fine."
With Samuel gone, the 6-0 McCorvey probably will take over Samuel's role as the Lady Tigers production leader. McCorvey averaged just under 17 points a game last season and surpassed the 1,000 career points barrier. In fact, McCorvey is now fourth on T.R. Miller's career scoring list with 1,040 points.
"We've worked a lot with Joy on her ballhandling ability and we've also been working with her farther away from the basket. If she continues to develop in those areas, she will be a difficult player for opposing teams to match up against," Jackson said.
While McCorvey may be the production leader, Lane probably moves into the team leader role as the squad's only expected senior.
"Keonshaye has really been handling the leadership role very well so far. She has also improved her ballhandling skills since last season," Jackson said. "Probably the area we're working with her the most right now is her ability to see the floor."
The Lady Tigers went 6-2 during the weekend competition. Their wins were against McIntosh, Northview (Fla.), Flomaton, Monroe County and Hillcrest (twice). Both losses were against the Alabama Roadrunners, an all-star team which consisted of some of the state's top players.
"We lost by 22 points to them the first time and by about 15 the second time, but I felt we competed pretty well against them. They had a lot of size, including a 6-3 player who handled the ball like a point guard. You rarely see that," Jackson said.
While the Lady Tigers return four starters from last year's 29-3 and state runner-up team, that leaves a spot in the lineup still open. T.R. Miller may have found that missing link in the person of junior Keya Peterson.
"Keya played with us as a
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freshman, but didn't play last year. She has some things to work on, but she did a lot of good things during our tournament. She showed the ability to hit from outside and she has some power to be able to go inside although she isn't that big, maybe about 5-6. I think she might be a player who could average about 10 points or so a game next season," Jackson said.
While McCorvey, Lane, Sanford, Smith and Keya Peterson got the biggest bulk of the varsity minutes at the tournament, Jackson liked some of the contributions freshmen Brittany Watson, Latasha Boykin and Kesha Peterson provided.
"Brittany will probably play around the basket. Right now we're trying to get her stronger. Latasha showed a lot of shooting potential and she has pretty decent form for a freshman. Keysha, who is Keya's sister, is a very aggressive player," Jackson said. "All in all it was a pretty good camp for us."