It’s been a strange three weeks for the Hattiesburg girls basketball team. The Lady Tigers have had to experience multiple forfeits and cancelations in that time, which is why they haven’t played a game since January 4.
In fact, Hattiesburg coach Caronica Jackosn can’t even tell you her team’s record after the confusion. However, the Lady Tigers got back on track with a dominating 61-20 win over South Jones on Friday at HHS’ gym.
“We were on quarantine, and teams we were supposed to play were on quarantine,” Jackson said. “We have forfeited or canceled four or five games. This is our first time playing since Jan. 4.
“That considering we played really well tonight.”
On senior night, the Hattiesburg had two big performances from seniors Laterria Brister and Chloe Thompson.
Brister, who entered the game averaging just 1.2 points per game, scored a team-leading 14 points, with eight of those points being scored in the first quarter. Brister’s effort helped the Lady Tigers jump out to a 13-2 lead by the end of the first quarter.
“I told Laterria that if we can get that energy and production from you throughout the season, then we have a much better chance throughout the playoffs,” Jackson said.
Thompson, Hattiesburg’s leading scorer, was critical in the Lady Tigers extending their lead by forcing turnovers and helping the team score in transition. According to Jackson, Thompson’s success was partly due to the rest of her team-building off Brister’s energy.
“Tonight was senior night and senior Laterria Brister, who is not a normal starter, came out with good energy,” Jackson said. “She scored some big baskets early, and she energized the rest of the team. I think that was a big start-up for everyone else.
“Mainly, most of the stuff that (Thompson) got tonight was off of some things that other people did. That’s one thing that we have emphasized for other people to score other than her. It’s good to see scoring from other people. She just kind of fed off of the offensive boards and shots that everybody else was doing tonight.”
Hattiesburg built a 27-7 lead at the half. The Lady Tigers opened the third quarter with a 17-0 run to extend their lead to 46-13 to put the game well out of reach.
For Jackson, the win against South Jones was needed in getting her team’s momentum and confidence back. While the team moves forward in the final stretch of the year, Jackson says while her team may not know where they stand in district and that the main focus is to try and begin peaking right when the postseason tournament begins,
“We still have to figure out where our division stands,” Jackson said. “At this point, you want to be coming together and just play to win every game that you step on the court for, and then everything else will take care of itself.”