Northside High School’s girls basketball team is off to a fast start. They are 6-1 on the season and have won five straight contests. To put that start into perspective, the other four teams in 6A Region 1 each have three or more losses. It is also a stark contrast to the way the team began last season. Northside has doubled its wins from last season through the first seven games.
Head coach Ashleigh Fox is not surprised by the start of the season given her team’s demeanor. She has noticed that this season’s team seems easier to coach.
“I have girls who work hard and love basketball,” Fox mentions. “I haven’t had to fuss or pull teeth to get effort out of them. They always go hard and give 100 percent effort, especially in game situations.”
That effort has the Lady Eagles soaring past opponents while averaging 11 more points per game than their competition. But even with the fast start and success, Fox understands that there are areas for growth.
“I honestly believe we should be putting up 15 more points per game at least,” Fox said when asked about areas of improvement for her team. “First half of our game on Tuesday versus Upson Lee we were six for 25 in the paint. So obviously we are getting some good looks, we just have to finish and Tuesday’s game wasn’t the only time that’s happened.”
Fox knows that improving on that efficiency will be crucial once they enter conference play and if they hope to advance in the playoffs. For now, her team turns their attention to Central High School, which they will welcome in to play Saturday. The task is never easy when playing against a Macon team and Fox understands the challenges her team will face.
“My girls tend to get antsy,” Fox admitted while talking about preparing for a Central team that may apply more pressure. “What I’ve tried to instill in them is discipline so when it comes down to running our offense, I tell them don’t let anybody rush you.”
Northside has not played many teams who apply pressure, but discipline will definitely be needed in order to combat the more aggressive teams. What is also needed in a leader. Fox believes she has found one in senior Tamia Sapp. The six-foot forward played center last season and this year is showing off more of her versatility outside and in. She currently leads the team in points (13.5), rebounds (6.6), and blocks (1.4), and her biggest asset is her ability to defend on the block as well as on the perimeter. Fox is also impressed with her leadership.
“She’s starting to serve as a leader,” Fox said about Sapp’s many attributes. “Before she wasn’t very vocal but she has started to step up in that role as well.”
It will still be important for Fox to keep her team grounded and hungry to improve. The more wins keep piling up, the harder it gets to mask the confidence growing in her players.
“They’ve got the mindset that we’re pretty good and we’re beating some teams,” Fox said about keeping her team humble. “I have to let them know we can’t go into a game taking folks lightly because we haven’t seen the best competition we’re going to see yet.”
Fox understands this is a part of the game and it is her job to temper that confidence and swagger so it doesn’t become arrogance. Something she knows she will have to do in their game this evening.
“I just try to keep them focused on taking care of this, as opposed to ‘OK we’re playing this team on Saturday.’ ”