“I think our players will be ready,” Oxford head coach Tonya Peoples said. “This is what they’ve been wanting — and waiting — for a year.
“It was a great game last year between the two of us, and either one of us could have won that, but we came up short. Jacksonville was well deserving of that, and ended up winning the tournament, but it really hurt our kids.”
The Lady Yellow Jackets are riding the hot-hand of senior guard Casmine Copeland, who scored a game-high 18 points against the Lady Raiders. Fellow Oxford senior Lexie Higgins added 10 points.
“We made some outside shots, but we missed a lot of easy baskets. Pleasant Valley did a good job, and the other night, Weaver did a good job as well,” said Peoples. “However, Jacksonville is at a different level.”
Oxford held a 10-2 lead after the first quarter, and carried a 30-12 score into halftime. In the third quarter, the Lady Yellow Jackets sealed their victory. They outscored Pleasant Valley 22-6 in the pivotal quarter.
Two games into the tournament, Peoples is singing high praises about Copeland.
“She’s a leader. If it’s an outside shot, penetration, or passing, she’ll do it,” Peoples said. “She’s seasoned, and is ready to do whatever we ask.”
Copeland remembers last year’s game against Jacksonville all too clearly.
“It feels good to be playing Jacksonville, since they got us last year,” she said. “We want to come out with a vengeance this year.”
After falling last year, Peoples knows what her team has to do to stop Jacksonville’s possibility for back-to-back county championships.
“I know how he (Jacksonville coach Ryan Chambless) plays,” she said. “They’re good, and they’ll going to be physical. They’re going to try and force you to turn it over, and it’s going to be something we haven’t seen in a long while. We are going to have to be ready or they’re going to jump on us quick.
“If we go down the court three or four times and don’t hit shots, there is going to be a gap. We can’t let that happen, but our players will have to make plays.”
After the win Thursday night, Copeland is only thinking positive thoughts.
“We know we can win, and can play hard. We just have to come out and do what we do.”