Lady Tigers on the prowl
Lady Tigers on the prowl
DEMOPOLIS – As the Demopolis Lady Tigers prepare for this afternoon’s game against Deshler in the 4A state basketball semifinals, only one thing is on their mind.
That one thing is simple: One game at a time.
The Lady Tigers, under head coach Tony Pittman, have done a remarkable job thus far in 2005, and the season is yet to be over.
“It feels real good [to be heading to Birmingham],” Pittman said. “One of the reasons is that we’re very healthy right now. And this time of year you feel very fortunate to still be just playing right now. There are a lot of teams that would easily trade places with us. We feel very fortunate as a team to be still playing and have the opportunity that we have before us.”
So what needs to be done to overcome a repeat of 2004?
“First of all, we cannot get in a hole like we did in the first quarter [last year],” Pittman said. “They [Deshler] jumped on us early, 17-3 or so, before we even got in the ball game in the first quarter. And we were just never able to adjust to get out of the hole. They just kept pressuring us and we cut it to five, six points at different times, but then we turned the basketball over and it would go back up to 12 or 15 points. So the first thing is we can’t dig ourselves a hole like we did last year.”
Another key factor, according to coach Pittman, is the fact that the girls had a few jitters playing in Birmingham last year.
And this year, those jitters will be gone.
“The other thing is I felt like we were intimidated by the surroundings of playing there [in Birmingham],” Pittman said. “We had won a couple days before and being in that facility and playing the defending state champions, we got a little intimidated. But I can assure you that that won’t happen this year. I think we’ve taken on the attitude of ‘one game at a time,’ whoever it is, we don’t care – we’re going to come out and play our game and let’s see what happens.”
Although many teams might feel pressure returning to play the defending champions, the Lady Tigers are ready to go into Birmingham and play Demopolis basketball.
“I don’t feel like we have any pressure on us,” Pittman said. “We’re going in with the attitude of we didn’t play our game last year, we played a Deshler ball game and we didn’t win. So we’re going in with an attitude of ‘let’s just play our game.’ Whatever happens happens, but we’re going to play our basketball game this year. Let’s go and compete, and if Deshler beats us, then fine – they beat us. But they’re going to beat us playing our game, not theirs. And that’s the attitude we have. As far as pressure on us going back, we feel fortunate to even just be back.”
Overall, the DHS Lady Tigers play as a team, and that is one of the main reasons for the team’s success.
But two seniors have taken a large step in becoming leaders on this year’s squad.
“Two [seniors] have really stepped up as leaders this year,” Pittman said. “Daphne Reid has taken on the role of being a leader as well as Gabrielle [Essex]. Gabrielle leads by example and she’s not a young lady of many words, but she tries to lead by example. But Daphne has really stepped up and become our leader on the floor as well as off the floor. I can always call on her to do things in my absence and I really believe that if I’m not there, she could carry on practice just like I was there. But she’s been in the system for four years and Gabrielle has as well. But Gabrielle is more of a quiet leader.”
As DHS is now most likely beginning their stretching and routine pre-game rituals, coach Pittman is hoping a large Demopolis crowd will come out to support the Lady Tigers.
“We need the Tiger faithful to really come out,” Pittman said. “Be there [this afternoon] because I know Deshler fans are going to be there – they were there last year. And I would love to hit the floor and see a lot of that blue and white. And it would be great for the kids to look and see our fans there. But they [the fans] have been there all year, though. And that’s one thing I feel has really picked up and we’re looking forward to a great turnout again [this afternoon] and bring home a Demopolis Tiger victory.”