Tunica Academy’s basketball season is officially underway, but victories on the court have been somewhat elusive in early rounds of play.
Still, coaches are optimistic their teams will see improvement in coming weeks.
On Nov. 8, the TA varsity and junior high Lady Blue Devils traveled to Marshall Academy, where they were swept by the AA rival Patriots.
In junior high action, the Lady Devils fell 43-29 in a hard-fought match.
Crystal Terry led the team in scoring, followed by Bailey Bounds, Hayley Holmes, Ellen Graves and Sally Perry. Official individual statistics weren’t available at press time.
The varsity girls suffered a hard defeat at the hands of the Patriots, falling 64-22.
“The first quarter started off good for us, but it just got worse for us from there,” said Lady Devils Head Coach Abbey Turner.
Caitlyn Brown led the varsity squad in scoring with 9 points, followed by Claire Schubert with 8 points, Crystal Terry with 3 points and Sam Melton with 2 points.
The Blue Devils opened their home season on Thursday, Nov. 11, facing a solid foe in Strider Academy.
In junior high action, the Lady Devils recorded their first win of the season, defeating Strider 51-16.
Crystal Terry led scorers with 18 points, followed by Ellen Graves with 9 points; Bailey Bounds and Hayley Holmes, each with 6 points; Sally Perry and Jordan Spencer, with 4 points each; and Amber McCormick and LeEllen Perry rounding out the scorers with 2 points apiece.
In boys play, the junior high boys suffered a heartbreaking defeat, losing 27-24 after leading Strider by 3 points at the end of the first half.
Down by 2 point in the fourth quarter, and less than 10 seconds on the clock, the junior Blue Devils were forced to foul the Strider ball handler to stop the clock and get a chance at the ball. Strider made the first of two foul shots on a one-and-one, increasing its lead to 3 points.
With time running out after the inbound pass, the Devils fired off a desperation shot that missed the basket, leaving the junior high boys down by 3 points at the end of the contest.
Scoring for Tunica were: Arnoldo Ferretiz, with 8 points; Garland Melton, and Dalton Holderfield with 7 points each; and Austin Goff, 2 points.
Head Coach Murry Rhodes said despite the loss, he’s impressed with the progress the young squad has made since last year.
“We’re ahead of where we were last year. They played hard and our young guys got a lot of experience,” Rhodes said.
“I think we did real well considering we didn’t have two of our key players (leading scorer Donald Johnson and 6-4 newcomer Rip Kirk, who both missed playing due to state A football playoffs). We’re looking forward to having a good season.”
The Tunica Academy varsity girls again fell short, but saw improvement in their game against a tenacious Strider team.
“We ended up losing the game but it was a much closer matchup,” Turner said. “We were actually leading up to the half.”
But after the break, Strider closed the distance and overcame the Lady Devils for a 52-36 win.
Leading Tunica in scoring was Caitlyn Brown with 22 points; Crystal Terry with 7 points; Claire Schubert with 4 points; and Sam Melton with 3 points.
The Varsity Lady Devils, also fell short in a solo match against Veritas on Saturday, Nov. 13, losing 58-40.
Crystal Terry led Lady Devils scorers with 20 points, followed by Caitlyn Brown, Ellen Graves and Claire Schubert, each with 6 points; and Taija Daniel with 2 points.
Turner said despite the outcome, improvements are being recognized in her teams.
“We’re scoring more than we have in the past seasons, and we’re working hard to get our defense where it needs to be,” Turner said, speaking of her varsity girls squad.
As for the junior high girls, Turner said, “I feel like we’re going to have a good season. We’re aggressive and we’re quick, and I think we’re certainly going to be able to compete.”
With exception of the varsity boys team, which is yet to compete due to the post-season playoffs in football, all squads will resume play Monday when the Blue Devils travel to AA North Delta for a non-conference matchup.
On Tuesday, the junior high boys and varsity girls will begin conference play when they face off against Delta Academy at home.
Because Delta does not have a junior high girls team, TA’s girls will not play Tuesday. In addition, Tunica’s varsity boys are not expected to play due to state football playoffs.
Tip off for the first game is 4:30 p.m.