HOLLANDALE — Simmons High School girls basketball coach Bernita Alexander is superstitious. She said she is not ready to make any bold predictions about what her Devilettes can accomplish this season.
This is especially true given how much talent Coach Alexander lost on her team from last season which advanced all the way to the Big House to play in the MHSAA Class 1A State Championship. Jaleila Gadison and Tiara Willis were both star players and unquestioned leaders on last year’s squad which finished the season with a 26-8 record.
But, despite all of Coach Alexander’s reservations, she cannot help but speak optimistically about the potential of her team this season. The Devilettes are off to a flying start, having won all three of their games by more than 40 points.
“I am seeing some signs that show what we are capable of becoming,” Coach Alexander said. “We have potential, but it is a matter of whether or not we can overcome adversity that will come our way as the season progresses.”
If Simmons is going to have another stellar year, it will need sophomore Taylor Lucas-Howard to take on a bigger leadership role, Coach Alexander said.
As a freshman, Lucas-Howard, a swift guard with a knack for scoring, was an understudy to both Gadison and Willis last season. Now, as a sophomore she will be needed to increase her scoring and leadership.
“One of the great things about Taylor is that she has never been intimidated,” Coach Alexander said. “Even when I watched her play in junior high, she had a fearless attitude. She certainly has the ability, but she needs to work on staying focused for the entire game.”
Lucas-Howard’s main running mate in the backcourt this season will be sophomore Carl’Kaisha Lucas, and Coach Alexander said together these two sophomore have the ability to control the pace of the game this season. Much is also expected from senior guard Nicole Maybell.
Junior forward Na’Riah Robinson is leading the Simmons front court in the early season with an 11.7 point-per-game scoring average. Senior Nikkia Douglas Vereisha Robinson also are expected to help the Devilettes control the paint this season.
“I believe we have what it takes to make it all the way. We just have to play together and keep working hard,” Lucas-Howard said.