The Houston Lady Hilltoppers opened division play in a positive fashion, taking a 53-42 win over the Lady Confederates of Caledonia Jan. 10.
The coaches in the division decided to balance their division schedules, playing each team twice, once at home and once on the road, leading to a very busy January and February en route to district tournament. Region 4-4A has a ten district game schedule with the Houston girls posting a win to start the hunt they hope will lead to Jackson.
Although they took a 34-45 loss to Calhoun City Jan. 11, coach Vernessa Gates chalked it up to another learning experience that she hopes will pay off down the stretch.
“I think playing a team like Calhoun City leading into division play is a good test of where we actually are in our preparation for the Big House,” Gates said. “We missed a great deal of wide open shots under the basket in Saturday’s game and that is one area the coaches feel we must correct before our next division game. We will continue to work hard in practice on improving our critical areas.”
Gates added that fan support means a lot to the team and the coaching staff appreciates the support they have received this season.
Toppers working toward goals
The Hilltoppers dropped their first division game to the Feds, 38-54, and battled a tough Calhoun City team Saturday, but coach Orlando Randle sees a lot of positive potential in his squad heading into the district schedule.
“This has been a season of rebuilding and learning,” Randle said. “The guys are embracing both.”
The Toppers and Wildcats have established a fast-paced rivalry that leads to four quarters of physical play and they didn’t disappoint their fans Saturday night.
The tip went to Houston and the action started immediately with both teams stealing without success until Calhoun City’s Austin Burl hit a trey to open the scoring. They came up empty on their next possession and Houston’s Chase Eldridge snagged the rebound and sent it ot Javan Farr for a deuce.
The Wildcats took an early lead but Deontae Pratt’s trey tied things back up and they ran neck-and-neck through the first half, trailing by five at the break.
The Wildcats got the win, 64-79, but the Toppers got some experience against one of the quickest, up-tempo teams in the area. And with nine district games on the horizon, Randle believes they will take the best from their experience and put it on the court.
“I’m looking forward to the upcoming games and espcially our division,” Randle said. “We will be ready to make a run come playoff time.”