Mississippi College’s women’s basketball team is coached by Paul Duke, who is on his 23rd season as the leader for the Lady Choctaws. During his past 22 seasons as head coach for the Choctaws, Duke has been very successful, accumulating a record of 356-204.
The team, which is made up of mostly younger players, has faced some adversity this season due to injuries. Because of this, Duke has had to use multiple, varying lineups since the season started back in October.
Things finally seem to be looking up for the Choctaws, though.
On Monday, Jan. 15, MC’s women’s basketball team geared up for their holiday match up against the Montevallo Falcons in Mississippi College’s Golden Dome. The Choctaws went into the game with a record of 5-10, with hopes of clinching their second conference win of the season, and that’s exactly what they did.
Key player Kelley Allen led the Choctaws with 21 points in the game, freshman Lauran Sheriff was close behind Allen with 16 points, and Ieisha Lacey contributed 15 points to the win. The Lady Choctaws maintained a lead throughout the game and extended it to a 15-point lead to seal the deal in the closing minutes at A.E. Wood Coliseum.
“Our girls are starting to get used to each other,” Duke said after coaching the team to their second GSC victory this season. “We’ve played a lot better offensively and defensively.”
He said his No. 1 goal for the team right now is getting each player back from the plague of sickness and injuries that has affected the team this season. Injuries to key players like Kelley Allen have forced some other ladies to step up.
Duke says one of those players is Kaitlyn Thompson, who is a sophomore forward from Cleveland, Miss. She had eight points last Monday against the Falcons from Montevallo. She said the team had time to hang out before the game so they were very focused and ready. “That’s always been my favorite part of basketball: my teammates,” Thompson said. When asked how the victory against the Falcons has helped the team, Thompson said, “I think we have some momentum now.”
As for the injuries the Choctaws have had to deal with this season, Thompson admitted that it’s tough, but it’s just a part of sports. Duke also mentioned Hannah Shafer as a leader for the Lady Choctaws, after her return from being out since the second week of October.
With 11 games left in GSC play, Duke hopes to have everyone back and healthy for the remainder of the season. “I hope with everybody back that we play hard, and we can win any of these games if we stick together and get a little bit better each day.”