Underdog role OK with Miller
By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
March 9, 2001
There's no doubt the Southeast Lauderdale girls will be the underdog when the Lady Tigers take the floor in the Class 3A state championship game this afternoon.
And that's just fine with head coach Joe Miller.
For good reason. Southeast hasn't lost in the playoffs, either. The 31-8 Lady Tigers, who have won 23 of their last 25 games, go up against seventh-ranked South Pontotoc today at 1 p.m. in the 3A title game at the Mississippi Coliseum.
South Pontotoc is 35-3. The veteran Lady Cougars have won 29 straight games, and Miller says they've done it with teamwork and red-hot shooting.
That could be a big problem for Southeast, which has been a come-from-behind team for the last month.
Like Southeast, South Pontotoc doesn't necessarily sport a ton of size.
But the Lady Cougars have 10 interchangeable players and they come at you with constant full-court pressure.
Miller said one of South Pontotoc's spirit signs in the Big House defines the team perfectly. It includes three steps to success, with the last being "Outlast them."
Senior guard Emily Waldrop and the sister tandem of senior Natalie Reeder and sophomore April Reeder head up the South Pontotoc attack.
Southeast, of course, is led by Mississippi's all-time leading scorer in Monique Horner.
The senior guard averages a little more than 36 points per game and has 4,810 career points.
Junior guard Lesley Ruffin, sophomore guard Erika Ruffin, junior forward Kenitta Cooley and the freshman trio of Ebony Moore, Samantha Smith and Shalonda Mitchell have also been big contributors during the postseason for Southeast.
Miller said he's proud of his team for its magical run during the playoffs, one that he just doesn't want to see end especially for Horner, the team's only senior.
Both teams own one state championship. South Pontotoc, the 1978 Class BB state champ, is in its first title game since 1986.
Southeast, the 1968 Class A champ, hasn't played for a state title since 1988. Vimville High School won three straight titles from 1931-33.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.