Tippah County Sports

Tippah County, Mississippi Sports

Blue Mountain

SUPER SIX: With a roster of just six players, the Blue Mountain Lady Cougars are off to a super start

SUPER SIX: With a roster of just six players, the Blue Mountain Lady Cougars are off to a super start….

BLUE MOUNTAIN–The Blue Mountain Lady Cougars entered the 2023-24 high school basketball season as the No. 1 ranked Class 1A girls teams in the state.

Ten games into the season, the roster of just six players–seniors Arare Foote, Keyauna Foote, Irlalyn Rakestraw and Akeelah Lipsey and sophomores Beja Foote and Precious Hall–led by fifth-year head coach Regina Chills, is making the case that they could be ranked in few more classes.

That’s because, despite having just enough to put five on the floor and one sub, Chills and the Lady Cougars are off to an impressive 10-0 start. Maybe more impressive is that eight of those wins are against teams in a higher classification.

Knocking off the defending champs…

Last week, the Lady Cougars made a huge statement with a 49-40 victory over northeast Mississippi basketball power, Ingomar. The Lady Falcons won another Class 1A state title last spring and are favorites to win a Gold Ball this season in their new 2A classification.

Ingomar played the second quarter without last year’s MHSAA’s Miss 1A Basketball Macie Phifer due to injury, but Lady Falcons coach Trent Adair said he knew going into the game that he was facing a talented bunch that would make things tough regardless of who was on or off the floor.

“Obviously, I think you have to give them a lot of credit,” said Adair. “They’re tough. They’re physicllay tough. They’re mentally tough. And they’re probably not talked about enough. They’ve played a lot of basketball together. And Regina (Chills) does a great job with them.”

Lady Cougars senior point guard A’rare Foote is one of the players with tons of experience. She’s unquestionably one of the best floor generals in the state on both ends of the court. Foote had a huge night against Ingomar with 26 points and tenacious defensive effort.

“She’s experienced. It seems like she’s been playing here for 10 years,” added Adair “She’s just a player. Just kept making plays. Everytime we would get close, she would make a play with a steal or a bucket. She was always sticking it to us.”

One thing head coach Regina Chills was looking for in that game was how her squad would handle the pressure of Ingomar. She got that chance when the Lady Falcons used a 16-0 run to take a brief one-point lead with under two minutes to play.

“I think we did an excellent job at the end,” said Chills. “We already knew Ingomar was gonna be Ingomar. They’re the staple basketball program in the state and a championship team so we knew they were going to make a run.

“I thought the girls responded well and showed me that they’ve gelled as a team. In the final minute, I saw players coaching on the floor, so I didn’t have to do all the coaching. That was huge for them. I don’t think they’ve gotten the attention from any of the media that they are a contender, but that response is momentum to press forward to and believe they can reach the goal.”

Road win over the Lady Aggies….

The Lady Cougars followed up the Ingomar victory with a 45-32 road win at 3A Kossuth. The game was tied at 10-10 after the first 8 minutes. But the Lady Cougars held Kossuth scoreless in the second quarter and never looked back.

Kossuth coach Rick Hodum said he was down a couple of starters, but he wonders how much of a difference it would have made against the Lady Cougars, who he says is “hard to prepare for.” He added that given the talent on the team, the small roster is a non-factor.

“Regina Chills does a great job with Blue Mountain. She’s got really good players and you can tell by who they’ve been playing and who they’ve beaten,” said Hodum. “Her girls are really good and they’re really disciplined. Everybody does their role on that team and they dont miss a beat. So it doesn’t matter if they have six players. They are smart and basketball IQ.”

On Monday, the Lady Cougars beat their third 4A opponent of the year with a 52-38 win over North Pontotoc, who entered the game at 8-1. The Lady Cougars other higher-classification wins include 3A Alcorn Central, 4A Houston, 2A East Union and 3A Independence.

Gotta be in shape….

One of the most difficult things about having just six players is scrimmages in practice. But one of the main things about having six players is being in shape to handle a high numbers of minutes.

So what does Chills focus on? Conditioning.

“We run drills during our practice during school hours. But after school, we condition. Lots of conditioning. Everyday,” said Chills

By: Kedrick Storey

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