BAY ST. LOUIS -- In six days, postseason will be here and the Bay High Lady Tigers will open the defense of their Class 4A state basketball championship.
And while Bay High may emphasize guard play more this season than last, Coach Debbie Triplett's team is looking for that second straight state championship and fourth in school history.
Bay High (23-3) meets Ocean Springs tonight to close out its regular season, then opens the Division 8-4A Tournament as the No. 1 seed next Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Tigerdome. With a bye, the Lady Tigers will face the winner of Tuesday's Poplarville-Vancleave game in the tournament semifinals.
Five-foot-11 senior Christa Reed, who signed with Vanderbilt, paces the team in scoring with 28.0 points a game. She also leads the team in rebounding at 7.2 a game.
"We are probably more of a guard heavy team,'' Reed said after Tuesday's 50-42 victory over county rival Hancock. "We do have a couple of post girls but we lost a lot of height from last year.''
Bay High returns starters Breanna Smith (6.8 rebounds a game) and Jamaya Galloway (10.3 ppg., 3.8 assists a game) from last year's team but lost Bretta Hart and Terrica Williams to graduation. Hart currently plays for Ole Miss.
Two new key newscomers who start are Aerion Dority and Elise Dorsey.
Triplett was pleased for the most part with her team's defense in the win over Hancock. But she wasn't happy that her team only hit 6 of 14 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter. Overall, Bay went 13 of 22 from the foul line.
"We didn't make free throws, and that's not going to get it,'' Triplett said. "I'm proud of the kids. It was a good win (over Hancock). I just didn't think we played really well.
"We are more guard-oriented, and not getting a lot (of points) out of our post.''
Two of the Lady Tigers' three losses came at the hands of two Class 6A schools -- Harrison Central and Oak Grove. Bay also defeated both of those teams. Bay also dropped a 41-40 decision to John Curtis of River Ridge, La., in the St. Mary's Dominican Tournament in New Orleans.
Bay showed off its perimeter abilities against Hancock, connecting on nine 3-pointers -- Reed made five treys -- while coming out on the perimeter in a man-to-man defense to slow down Hancock's 3-point shooters.
The Bay High girls enjoyed hoisting the Gold Ball last year after crushing Pontotoc 65-42 in the 4A championship game. That completed a 36-0 season, the first time a Coast girls team went unbeaten since 1988.
Some of the North State contenders this season are Pontotoc, Itawamba and Ripley. Raymond, Quitman and Forrest County AHS are South State contenders
Reed said she thinks Bay High will contend again.
"I feel like I can always do more for my team,'' she said. "I'm working on it. But I feel like we are doing good as team. We can still make improvements. We have a couple of things to work on. But I feel good about our chances.''