PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast will be making its first trip to the MACJC Women's Basketball Tournament since 2013 on Monday, and the biggest challenge this year was getting the players to see that a possibility.
The Lady Bulldogs (13-8, 9-5), the third seed in the South, take on the North's No. 2 seed, Northeast (15-7, 8-4). Tipoff in Ellisville is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The game will be streamed at https://www.nemcctv.com/black-channel.
"Coming off last year's season, where you have a losing season, you're trying to convince your sophomores we can win," Gulf Coast coach Hope Adams said. "That's the hardest thing, trying to develop that winning culture. Once out sophomores started to really see we could win, they took over and they started to lead."
Northeast is led by point guard Dayzsha Rogan, who averages 19.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 4.0 steals. The Lady Tigers' inside punch comes from 6-foot center Cherelle Jones, who is averaging a double-double at 13.1 points and 11.1 rebounds.
Adams said NEMCC will us a 2-2-1 press and play hard. The Lady Bulldogs will hope to exploit inside matchups with their three-headed forward rotation: Kayla Simmons (Fr., Brandon/Brandon), Azaria Howard (So., Richland/Richland) and Daphane White (Fr., Gulfport/St. Martin). Two of them are usually on the court together, and all are 6-foot or taller.
"If we play poised, play our defense and play our game, we should be fine," Adams said. "We should have a mismatch when we've got two bigs on the floor, which will make them have to adjust."
Gulf Coast has won five of its last six games heading into the postseason. After a 2-3 start in November, the team has come a long way.
"At the beginning, we were lacking that leadership," Adams said. "Right now, we have our sophomore leadership. I tell them every day how proud I am of them because to be a good team, you have to that good leadership."
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