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'Special K' has played big for Columbus High girls

 

Adam Minichino

 

Post play isn''t suited for those with weak dispositions. 

 

But Kameron Corrothers and Kierra Erby are proving you don''t have to be the biggest players on the court to hold your own. 

 

The ability of the sophomore and junior forwards to do the dirty work -- play defense and rebound -- against opponents who often are taller and stronger has been an integral component of the Columbus High School girls basketball team''s success this season. 

 

Corrothers, Erby, and the rest of the Lady Falcons will try to take the next step at 7:30 tonight when they play Northwest Rankin at Horn Lake High in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A North State tournament. 

 

The winner will secure a trip to Jackson for the Class 6A State tournament and will advance to face the winner of tonight''s first game between Horn Lake and Jackson Murrah. 

 

Columbus High coach Yvonne Hairston said the willingness of Corrothers and Erby to accept their roles while others -- KeKe Patterson, Maggie Proffitt, and Toni Petty -- take on more glamorous roles like scoring has helped set the tone and bring the team closer together in pursuit of its goal to win a state title. 

 

"They know exactly what they''re supposed to do," Hairston said. "They''re responsibility is to defend, to block out, and to make the easy shots inside. They are post players, so they like to clean up and get the putbacks." 

 

Hairston said neither player has been fazed by the size discrepancies she faces in a game. She said fundamentals like boxing out have helped Corrothers and Erby help control the paint and prevent the Lady Falcons from giving up too many second shots. 

 

In a 60-59 victory against Southaven on Tuesday, Columbus (15-5) faced an opponent that had four players who were 5-foot-10 or taller. But Corrothers, who is 5-8 1/2, and Erby, who is 5-7 1/2, stood their ground, kept their arms up, and boxed out, which forced the Southaven players to come over their back in pursuit of rebounds. As a result, the Southaven post players, namely 6-1 sophomore center Jasmine Joyner, spent much of the game in foul trouble. 

 

"They are fundamental. They just do it right," Hairston said. "They have improved so much (from the beginning of the year). Kameron wasn''t scoring that much (early in the season), and I told them you have to at least get 10 or 12 points a night. Kameron has really stepped up in getting that, and Kierra is really leading us on the boards. She is doing it as well." 

 

Corrothers had 10 points and eight rebounds against Southaven, while Erby had 14 rebounds and Patterson had 12. 

 

Corrothers is in her first season as a post players. She said the job is challenging, but she goes out every game with the mind-set she can beat them, even though she also is undersized at 145 pounds. 

 

"I just use as much of my body as I can to not give them space," said Corrothers, who said her butt is an important weapon to help her carve out space in the paint and to get rebounds. "I enjoy getting in the heads of the people that I guard." 

 

Erby has been playing the post since the seventh grade. She has adjusted to not being the biggest or the strongest player down low. While that might have been tough, she said she tries to learn players'' weaknesses and use them against them on the court. 

 

"It is about blocking out, always blocking out," Erby said. "It has been a challenge, but I know I can do it." 

 

Hairston said the example Corrothers and Erby have set is valuable for her younger players. She hopes those players understand the importance of players filling roles to help the team realize its potential -- just like it has shown an ability to do this season. 

 

"Most people think it is all about scoring," Hairston said, "but to go this far you have to have a balanced team, and we''re balanced. We can defend, we can block out, and we can score."

 

Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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