February 9, 2011 8:47:00 AM
WEST POINT -- Wilma Davis can shoot the basketball.
Wilma Davis can shoot the ball so well that she sometimes camps out in either corner and settles for a shot on the first pass that comes her way.
For all of you who thought Davis was only a shooter, think again.
The West Point High School junior forward showed Tuesday night she can shoot, drive, rebound, and play with a pep in her step.
Davis scored a team-high 24 points to pace three players in double figures in West Point''s 68-55 victory against Saltillo in the semifinals of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A, Division 2, District 1 tournament.
"I want to give honor to God because He is the reason all of this is happening and He is the reason I play I do," Davis said. "I am in the gym every day working and coach (Jemmye Ann Helms) is constantly on my back. My teammates and coaches always have believed I can do it."
With the victory, West Point will take on Oxford, which defeated New Hope 57-35 in Tuesday''s first semifinal, at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The winner will earn the right to play host to a first-round North State playoff game.
Davis said she is more confident in her ability to emerge if teams try to take senior point guard Kelsei Ewings (19 points) out of the game. Ewings'' speed and ballhandling make her doubly dangerous because she can push tempo to create shots for herself or for her teammates.
But Davis showed she, too, has an attacking nature. Against Saltillo, she knifed through defenses for layups and displayed an ability to pass up perimeter shots and to create a better shot.
Helms said she has been trying to get Davis to be show all of her skills on offense. She said Davis is laid back and loves to play basketball, but sometimes she is a little too laid back.
"I stay on Wilma to give me every night something like that," Helms said. "She might get 10 one game and eight one game and then she will have a 20-point game. Now is the time of the season I really would like that 20-point game all of the time. She has that capability any night because she is smooth, she has a nice fluid shot."
Davis wouldn''t admit it, but her favorite shot might be a 3-pointer from the corner. In some games this season, Davis has settled for that perimeter shot, which puts West Point''s defense on alert for a long rebound that can be turned against it if not corralled.
And while Davis attempted a handful of treys Tuesday, she appeared more focused on taking the ball to the rim and maintaining pressure on the defense.
"I have to keep working hard," Davis said. "It is all about how bad you want it. When you want the shot, you''re going to do what it takes to get open and to make that shot."
West Point led 38-23 at halftime and extended the margin to 46-25 on a drive by Davis with 4 minutes, 43 seconds to go in the third quarter. The lead remained in double figures until Carley Bryson (21 points) scored off an assist from Laken Bryson to make it 59-50 with 1:52 to play, but the Lady Tigers didn''t get any closer.
In addition to David and Ewings, Nekeisha Walker had 12 points and Adrianna Billups had seven key points in the second half.
But Davis'' all-around performance was a special component Helms hopes to see every game the rest of the season.
"She has really added a couple of more dimensions to her game," Helms said. "One night she only penetrates, one night she only rebounds, one night she only pops out. When she combines all of those she really could do some damage and help us out."
n Oxford 57, New Hope 35: Turnovers -- and lot of them -- were the story in the opener, as the Lady Trojans (6-16) saw their season end.
New Hope handled Oxford''s full-court pressure best in the first half. It led 11-10 late in the first quarter and trailed 21-20 following a 3-pointer by Kaitlin Bradley and a layup by D.J. Sanders with 3 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
But the Lady Chargers capitalized on five turnovers by the Lady Trojans to end the half on an 8-0 run. They built their lead to as many as 22 (46-24) in the third quarter before New Hope coach Laura Lee Holman emptied her bench in the fourth quarter.
"Once they got that turnover mess in their head, they started second-guessing themselves," Holman said. "When they''re in rhythm and we''re not turning the ball over, we shoot really well from the field."
Without any seniors on the active roster, Holman pointed to her team''s growth this season against a tough schedule. She said she was proud of her players and that she needs to see them work hard in the offseason so they can take the next step in 2011-12.
"If they improve as much as they did by this time next year, they''re going to be fun to watch," said Holman, who hopes the fact five of her players are members of the school''s state championship softball program will help in that process. "They have to know they''re going to win the ballgame when the clock starts. I just hope this season takes us forward."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.