HOLLANDALE — Even when Coach Bernita Alexander was a little girl she dreamed of being a Devilette.
Alexander, the Delta Democrat-Times Girls Basketball Coach of the Year, would be in awe as she sat in the stands and watched the Simmons bigger girls play. She admired their strength and their resiliency. And she admired how the girls helped give their city a sense of pride.
“When you watched Simmons, you knew that they would always play with a high level of toughness and a high level of intensity,” Alexander said. “The school was a lot bigger, and there were a lot more things going on for us to participate. For example, the band was great, and it was really something.“But, as a little girl, I did not want to be in the band. I wanted to play basketball.”
When she got to high school, Alexander accomplished her goal of playing for the Devilettes. She prided herself as being a tough player who always played fierce defense. She cared less about how many points she scored and more about if the team won.
This same attitude has been with Alexander every since she became the head coach at Simmons ten years ago. Her teams have always put defense first, and this year has been no exception.
“A lot of people say that I coach just like I played basketball, and I think that is true,” Alexander said. “I did not score a lot of points, but if I did score I got those points from playing defense,” the Simmons coach said.
The Devilettes have a 14-3 record as they head into their opening round game against Mount Olive in the Class 1A state playoffs at Simmons. Simmons game against Mount Olive is tentatively scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m.; however, the game will be moved to Monday if the roads are still too icy. The Simmons-Mount Olive boys game at Simmons is tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday.
“This year has been really challenging for us, and I am proud of how the girls have all hung in there and stuck together,” Alexander said.
This year’s Simmons team is led by star junior Taylor Lucas-Howard who is averaging 18 points a game. Joining Lucas-Howard are other strong players like Jamira Scott, Nariah Robinson, Carl’Kaisha Lucas and Aaliya Esco.
“We are going to try to keep together and stay united,” Alexander said.