November 6, 2009 9:05:00 AM
Bruce Allsup likes his mix of players.
Sometimes coaches have the luxury of dealing with senior-laden teams that can adjust to nearly every situation.
Other years, coaches have to take a step back and start fresh with inexperienced squads.
This season, Allsup figures to have a mix of both with his Heritage Academy girls basketball team.
Seniors Madison Ford, Morgan Lott, and Carolina Borland will lead a 12-player team that features four juniors and five sophomores.
Allsup said contributions from one group won''t be enough if the Lady Patriots want to have a successful season.
"It is going to have to be a team effort from each class," Allsup said. "We have a lot of young ladies we are expecting to step up and try to contribute. On any given night, whoever is playing good can get the minutes."
Heritage Academy will kick off its season at 2:30 p.m. today when it plays host to Starkville Academy at its preseason tournament.
The three-day tournament, which also includes junior varsity action, kicks off at noon Saturday with Starkville Academy vs. Weir. It continues Monday ad Tuesday and also includes Pickens Academy, Hamilton, and Aberdeen.
Allsup said West Lowndes and East Webster also were invited to attend but backed out.
"We''re excited about who''s coming and getting our season started," Allsup said.
Even though Heritage Academy will look for a balanced approach, Allsup said Ford will be the team leader. He said it will be common for opponents to double-team her, which is why other players will need to emerge on offense to shoulder some of the scoring load. He said the team has plenty of experience, will be solid defensively, and will need to find way to put the ball in the basket.
"If we can get some production from some other people offensively, we have a chance to be a pretty good ballclub," Allsup said.
Juniors Marla Miller, Stephanie Cruse, Bailey Rader, Christibeth Nelson and sophomores Jessie Householder, Lauren Brown, Joanna West, Chandler Jones, and Laurel McCoy round out the roster.
Allsup said Heritage Academy could see significant production from the sophomores, who were part of a freshman team that won 17 games last season.
The tournament will give Heritage Academy an early chance to see how it compares to some of the best teams in the state, including Aberdeen, which returns senior Jameika Hoskins and should be one of the teams to beat in Class 3A of the Mississippi High School Activities Association.
Heritage Academy plays in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools.
"I have heard from several coaches what an outstanding team they have," Allsup said of Aberdeen. "They''re going to contend for the Class 3A state title. We know we will have our hands full, but I think it will be fun. It will be an opportunity for our fans to see some different schools and philosophies."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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