HomeSportsEarly exit fuels preparation for Lady Cougar program

Early exit fuels preparation for Lady Cougar program

By Brandon Shields

Managing editor

Jackson Central-Merry’s girls’ basketball team fell behind early to the team from Peabody in the Region 7-2A quarterfinals on Feb. 22.

Except for a scoring spurt that pulled the Lady Cougars within eight points, JCM could never get within single digits and the hopes of competing for a region championship slipped away on their home floor.

As frustrated as he was with the loss, Jeremy Simmons, who’d just wrapped up his first season as the Lady Cougars’ head coach, said he couldn’t have been more proud of his players.

“This was a young team that is still learning a lot,” Simmons said. “And the older players have been through a lot during their high school basketball careers.

“The senior and junior classes have had different coaches each of the last three years, and if they were playing the year before JCM was brought back, then that’s four coaches they’ve had.”

There are positive aspects to coaching a program at a school that’s been open for three years.

The biggest one is the fact that they have low numbers in their senior class and larger numbers in the freshman class, which means most of the team is coming back next year.

On top of the majority of the team returning – everybody except two seniors – Simmons has a full offseason with the team.

“I was named head coach in May, which meant we were going to camps without really a lot of time for them to get to know me and me to get to know them,” Simmons said. “So we were just playing, and then we get to school in August, and we can do conditioning but no basketball until October.

“So October was the first time we could really do any work together.”

That’s not the case this year.

The TSSAA mandates a three-week dead period for every team as soon as their season ends.

After that period is over – about the time JMCSS returns from Spring Break – Simmons said the plan is to get plenty of work in as more than a team, but as a program.

“I think everyone got a chance to see what the expectations will be for everyone in the program, but this year, we’ll really set those expectations,” Simmons said.

Simmons, who’s a JCM alum, said he plans on the expectations being high.

“We’ve got a state championship in our history, and we’re not far from competing and possibly winning the game tonight against a really good team from Peabody,” Simmons said. “There’s a ton of potential in this school to see a lot of success in the coming years, and I’m glad to be home to be a part of it.”

Brandon Shields,

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