Sky’s the limit for Lady Bulldogs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 13, 2005

After losing four key players to graduation, Selma CHAT Academy coach Ivery Williams didn’t know what he would do when two others quit just before the season.

That’s when hope walked through the door. A group of seventh graders came in and not only filled the empty spots, but soared in them.

“They just told me they wanted to play volleyball,” Williams said of his departed duo. “They didn’t have any excuses. They just didn’t want to play anymore.”

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Williams is no stranger to talent. As a coach at School of Discovery in 1999, he coached sixth-graders who went on to become standouts for their respective high schools. Williams’ intramural team included Tee Woods and

Bud Smith of Central Christian Academy, Robert Childers and Trey Brown of Selma High and Dallas County’s Michael Johnson.

Williams saw the same promise in his young team.

“I had these kids since the summer,” Williams said, “so I knew they could play.”

The Lady Bulldogs have proved that from the start. They won the Greensboro summer tournament and haven’t slowed since.

“The seventh graders have really helped us out,” said eighth grade point guard Kamesha Strong. “If it wasn’t for the seventh graders, we wouldn’t be as good. We have a lot of seventh graders on this team. That’s what makdes us so unique.

“All of us on this team are determined to win,” Strong added. “We’re eager to beat other teams. We have a lot of determination.”

Strong is one of four eighth graders on the Selma CHAT roster. She leads the team in scoring with a 16 points-per-game average.

As much as Strong has meant to the team, the eight seventh graders have given their all. Shooting guard Liddy Ngirailab has averaged seven points per game and has kept opponents off balance with her passing and ball handling.

Nicknamed “Hot Sauce” for her ball-handling skills, Ngirailab was named a starter by her coach.

“I thought there were going to be a lot more eighth graders on this team,” she said. “I didn’t think I would get a lot of playing time.”

The same can be said for Tynecia Ervin. As a first-year player in organized basketball, Ervin got the nod as the Lady Bulldogs’ starting post player.

“That made me feel like I could play very good,” Ervin said.

“We knew we could win,” eighth-grade shooting guard Ashley Grimes said. “We just didn’t know we would be this good.”

The Lady Bulldogs currently own a 13-4 record and shows no signs of slowing. Their talent was very much on display Wednesday when they took part in a five-minute scrimmage against the Selma CHAT Academy boys’ team. Although the boys won the scrimmage, 14-12, the Bulldogs have to score the final six points of the game to pull out the victory.

“I want the girls to scrimmage against the boys,” Williams said, “to make the girls tougher.”

That toughness will become even more necessary as the season continues. The Lady Bulldogs will play rival Tipton Middle School next Thursday. They will close out the season Jan. 31 against Demopolis, a team to which they suffered an 18-point beating earlier this season.

“We intend to win that game,” Williams said. “I don’t know how. They have more skilled players. But we plan on winning that game.”

As for Williams, he said he plans on being at Selma CHAT for several years to come.

“I prefer training the girls in basketball and sending them up (to the high-school level),” he said. “When Kamesha and Ashley are juniors, Selma should contend for a state championship again.”