PALESTINE – The Palestine Ladycats open district Tuesday night against the Fairfield Lady Eagles inside Wildcat gymnasium.
The Ladycats enter district play following a near month layoff between their Dec. 17 game against Kerens and Tuesday's district opener.
“We're prepared,” head coach Nicole Anderson said. “We're going to have to play a physical game. We have to be focused and committed to what we do really well.”
Rust isn't a concern for the team heading into Tuesday night. In fact, coach Anderson believes the break in action did her squad some good with allowing their bodies and minds to recover from the grind of tournament season.
The Ladycats have used the extended break to focus on team development, which was a nice change from having to constantly having to prepare for an opposing team, according to coach Anderson.
Palestine has been led by sophomore's Ja'Mya Reeves and Ay'Lashia Fantroy. The last time the two were on the floor they fell at home behind a fourth-quarter rally from Kerens.
Fantroy scored eight of her 11 points in the first half alone before scoring three in the third quarter. Reeves had six points for the Ladycats behind Fantroy.
Fantroy heads what coach Anderson believes one of their best attributes in “pushing the tempo.”
Their ability to put pressure on teams in the half court creates turnovers, allows Palestine to push pace and leads to easy scoring opportunities on the other end.
“It's going to be a total team effort for us on both sides of the court,” Anderson said. “I'm trying to create a culture of excellence. That means playing as a team on and off the court.”
The Texas Association of Basketball Coaches marked Fairfield as a preseason favorite for District 19-4A champs. TABC rankings currently have the Ladycats sneaking into the playoffs as the fourth seed.
However, Coach Anderson is confident her team has not nearly reached their potential and is excited for the direction her team is heading as district play begins. In fact, she believes Fantroy has the ability to become one of the district's premier players standing at 5'10.
“She's still learning the game,” Anderson said. “With her height she has the ability to make plays off the dribble. By the time she's a junior/senior she'll be one of the more dominant players in the district with her work ethic.”
Reeves has shown an ability to be a clutch player for the Ladycats so far. It was on display in Palestine's Dec. 3 matchup against Franklin where she scored nine fourth-quarter points to guide her team past the Lady Lions 37-32.
“She's real solid and poised to be such a young player,” Anderson said. “She has an understanding of the game. She's not afraid to learn and ask questions.”
“I'm looking forward to us doing what we're suppose to do. We're going to be incredibly competitive and winning some basketball games here.”