By Jeffery Armstrong
The Morrow Lady Mustangs basketball team found themselves in an unfamiliar position during the 2004 high school state basketball playoffs last year - sitting on the sidelines.
Last season was the first time in 13 years that the Lady Mustangs did not qualify for the state playoffs. They were beaten in the first round of the Region 2-AAAAA tournament by the Mt. Zion Lady Bulldogs, who eventually advanced to the state Final Four. The fact that they lost to a Final Four team eased the pain for Morrow head coach Yolanda Jenkins.
"Losing in the first round and not making state was difficult to swallow," said Jenkins, entering her fourth year as head coach. "The fact that Mt. Zion made it to the Final Four made me feel somewhat better."
A return trip to the state playoffs for Morrow would make Jenkins feel much better this year, especially with new teams moving into Region 2-AAAAA. Morrow, 15-10 last season, will have to step its game up as it will face some strong teams this season. The Lady Mustangs will have to contend with the Stephenson Lady Jaguars, the defending state AAAAA champions, and the Redan Lady Raiders, a state Elite 8 team that gave Stephenson its only loss last season. Another set of Lady Raiders, the ones from county rival Riverdale, will also be a factor in the region and Tri-Cities always seems to field good girls' teams. The other teams in the region include Douglass, Lithonia and Newton.
"We're going to have work for everything we get this season. Several of the teams in this region made state last year and return good players," said Jenkins, whose career record is 59-27. "We plan to take it one game at a time. Once we win our first game, we've got to concentrate on the second game. I just hope the team wants to win the region and make the playoffs this year."
In order for the Lady Mustangs to compete for one of the four playoff spots from their region, they will need strong games from junior post player Jordan Greenleaf (10.6 ppg, 11.9 rpg, 3.2 blocks last year) and senior point guard Chiquita Coleman (9.4 ppg, 2 apg, 2.3 steals). Sophomore Jasmine Parker will be asked to improve upon her 6.3 points per game last season. Other key players for Morrow include senior wing player Danielle Taylor, junior wing player Angie Smith and freshman post player Temperance Jacobs.
Morrow starts its season Wednesday, Nov. 24 against the South Atlanta Lady Hornets (of Region 5-AAAA) in the 15th Annual Arrowhead Classic tournament. Game time is set for 6 p.m.