Senior Chelsea Payne has been the biggest surprise for coach Leslie Henderson and the Watson Chapel Lady Wildcats.
“It is the scoring that she has done and she is playing a lot better defense,” Henderson said. “She has improved her game a lot.
“She is a four-spot that does a lot of ball handling for us.”
Watson Chapel will face the Pine Bluff Fillies tonight at approximately 6 p.m., following a junior varsity boys game between the two schools.
Henderson said she has been impressed by Pine Bluff’s guard play.
“They have got some depth,” Henderson said. “They have some quickness and are athletic.”
Pine Bluff is 7-1 on the season and is coming off a loss in a championship game in a tournament in Texas.
“They have got one of the best frontcourts in the state,” Pine Bluff coach Loy Moore said of Watson Chapel. “They have three seniors who have been there and we are trying to go at them with three sophomores.
“We know what they are going to do, they are going to pound it inside just like they did last year against us at their place.”
Those three seniors are Payne, Chapel Jones and Kamera Bozeman. Starter Leonicia Hart and bench player Jasmine Bell are also seniors.
“We haven’t had the same leading scorer in all seven games we’ve played,” Henderson said. “It has been a mixture of people.”
In their last game, the Lady Wildcats lost to Vilonia in a tournament in Cabot.
“We have to up our intensity and play harder,” Henderson said. “We tend to rest a little bit.
“Mainly, we need to improve our consistency. One minute we look like a million dollars and the next not even a penny.”
Watson Chapel is 3-4 on the year. Last season, they finished 18-10 and were second in the 5A-South Conference. Chapel lost in the first round of the state tournament.
Pine Bluff is missing a lot of experience in its starting roles as three sophomores start at the guard and center positions.
But Moore said he is still surprised how well they have done despite the inexperience.
“We are playing so many sophomores, I thought it would be a bumpy road early,” Moore said. “With only one senior on the floor, we have showed a little bit better consistency than I thought we would this early.”
Still, Moore would like a bit more rebounding from the guard position.
“Both our posts are getting what we need,” Moore said. “But we have to protect the defense boards better and limit other teams from getting second shots.”
Pine Bluff is led by its backcourt as the three average in double figures.