Editor's note: This story was submitted by Tyler White, a coach at Munford Middle School.
Four short years ago on Friday, February 13, 2009, the then Munford Middle School Lady Eagles basketball team was on the brink of making school history. They stood one game away from clinching the school’s first ever Girls’ TMSAA Sectional Championship. They were set to square off against Havenview Middle School and their star player Nina Davis. The Lady Eagles were the epitome of the Cinderella story. By playing gritty defense and blue collar basketball, the Lady Eagles had already shocked two heavily favored opponents earlier that week to advance to the championship game for the first time in school history.
The bad luck of Friday the 13th seemed to strike very early for the Lady Eagles when they found themselves in foul trouble early in the first half. Though they continued to play gritty defense and fight for every loose ball, the Lady Eagles struggled to find ways to score. With their two leading scorers, Robneisha “Bird” Lee and Lauren Zvolanek, in foul trouble, much of the work load was placed on eighth graders Alex Turner and Shaliyah Wiggins, along with seventh grade point guard Kierra Webb.
Havenview’s Nina Davis seemed to have no trouble finding her touch on this night, scoring 36 points and converting an outstanding 16 out of 16 free throw attempts. The Lady Eagles, misfortuned by foul trouble and a poor shooting performance, battled their way back in the game, but the clutch free throw shooting of Davis put the game out of reach down the stretch. Tears flowed when then eighth graders Lee, Wiggins, Zvolanek, and Turner had to sit and watch what seemed to be a chance in a lifetime slip away.
Fast forward four years, and the core of that sectional runner up team is still intact. Most of them have started at the high school level since their freshman year, and all of them have seen significant playing time. Coming off their second consecutive district championship, the Lady Cougars have another shot to make history for their school. They will square off against the Central Lady Warriors for a shot at the ultimate dream: a berth in the AAA State Tournament.
Lee, Wiggins, Zvolanek, and Turner are now all seniors, and they will have one more shot at their chance of a lifetime. With the help of junior point guard Kierra Webb and sophomores Kierra Richardson, Precious Mills, and Phenicia Howard, the Lady Cougars will take the court against a very familiar face. The Central Warriors are lead by none other than former Havenview standout and Miss Basketball finalist Nina Davis. Davis, alongside fellow teammates Tia Wooten and MeMe Hill, will be looking to make a run to the state championship game that they won just two short years ago.
The Lady Cougars, led by Coach Steve Poindexter, will rely heavily on their stingy defense, which is giving up just 43 points a game. The old saying “Defense wins championships” has proven true in the past week for the Lady Cougars who have already collected a district and a region championship.
Once again the underdog, the Lady Cougars will look to avenge an early season loss to the Lady Warriors. This time, however, it’s for all of the marbles. Whether it be by coincidence or by fate, the Lady Cougars have a shot once again to exceed everyone’s expectations, defeat a familiar foe, and make the schools first appearance in the state tournament. The Lady Cougars have defied the odds in the eyes of many, but if you ask them, they are just doing what they always have: winning.
With no star player, no heralded recruits, and a chip on their shoulder, Munford is playing solid defense and team basketball to get the job done. It started with a group of four eighth graders and one seventh grader just four short years ago, and the rest of the team has fallen in line. The Lady Cougars are on a mission to prove that their run four years ago was no coincidence. With hard work and dedication, this team is determined to go places they’ve never gone before; this time it’s Murfreesboro!