By Derrick Mahone
In the first game of the season, Mundy's Mill had what first-year coach Julius Omotayo called a "reality check" for his girls' basketball team.
The Lady Tigers lost their season opener 60-51 at North Clayton, which prompted the team to rethink their goals. Omotayo typed the new team goals and had them laminated for the locker room.
It serves as a reminder of what the team has to do to be successful in the region.
"We felt as if we should have won that game," Omotayo said.
Since that first game, the Lady Tigers have won eight straight heading into tonight's key Region 4-AAAA contest against Forest Park.
The Lady Panthers might be playing with a chip on their shoulders after dropping out of the state-rankings for the first time this season. Forest Park enters the 7 p.m. game with a 9-5 overall record and 7-0 in the region.
All five of their losses have come against out-of-state teams in tournaments. Tuesday's 53-24 win over Riverdale was the first time the team has been at full strength the start of the season.
Omotaya looks to use the game as a measuring stick to see how far his team has come since their opening game loss.
"Friday is a very big game," he said. "I told our team that they are the best team in our region, and the girls were like, 'we thought you coached us.' I told them that we were going to their house and they have been on a high level."
Mundy's Mill is led by junior Briana McQueen, who is averaging 16 points and five assists per game. But she is not alone in leading the team. Omotayo said that Cydnie Armstead has been playing well and has had a couple big double figure games.
He has also inserted Kristina Bridges into the lineup and it has paid off well for the team. In her last four starts, the senior is averaging 13.2 points.
"We are playing great team basketball lately," Omotayo said. "We have been practicing with some passion and trying to minimize our turnovers. It has been a real great team effort."
The winning streak has also boosted the team's confidence level.
"Our confidence is pretty high," McQueen said. "We are coming together as a team. We are ready for Friday. We see this as a big challenge."
Both teams have played well defensively this season. In its wins over teams from Georgia, Forest Park is giving up only 27 points per game. Mundy's Mill is only yielding 40 points in their last eight wins.
Forest Park coach Steven Cole said he isn't too worried about the team's overall record since it has losses have come against some nationally-ranked and state-ranked teams.
"When you have played the competition that we have played, you can come away feeling good about yourself," Cole said. "We saw the things that we needed to work on, and we learned about the things that we did well. We have been trying to clean up the things that we need to work on."