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Pontotoc girls building depth, chemistry in summer league

INGOMAR – Pontotoc’s quest to return to the Big House is back underway, but the road there may be harder than usual.

The Warriors lost seven seniors from last year’s Class 5A state semifinalist team, including three starters. Now with summer scrimmages getting started, Pontotoc's girls are replacing them with players without nearly as much experience.

“We’re sticking in a ton of girls that have never played a meaningful minute,” coach Kyle Heard said. “So we’re kind of mixing and matching right now.”

Some of those girls showed out in a scrimmage against Ingomar on Wednesday, which the Warriors won 33-28. Olivia Galloway, an incoming freshman, and Nakiyah Hoskins, a rising senior, each came off the bench and led the team with eight points.

“If we can mix and match,” Heard said, “I think we can get to a competitive level.”

As the summer goes on, Heard wants the Warriors to get as much experience as possible. That way, when tough situations arise in season, they’re ready for them.

“My thing about the summer is you get a chance to prove that you can play or a chance to prove that you can’t play,” he said. “We’re all going to get that chance, and I think putting kids in hard, game-like situations and letting them learn about themselves is our biggest goal this summer.”

Pontotoc does return a pair of All-Area players in Channing Lane and Lyla Cox. The pair combined for 13 points on Wednesday.

For Lane, working with new players means trying to build chemistry over the offseason.

“I think we’re just trying to figure out how to work together and play as a team. We’ve got to figure each other out,” she said. “I think that’s our main thing.”

The Warriors have reached the state semifinals in four of the last five seasons. This included a 4A state championship in 2020-21 and a runner-up finish in 2022-23. The team is 148-20 in that span.

Pontotoc’s summer work continued on Thursday when it hosted a summer league slate. The Warriors will also host games on June 4, 18, 24 and 25.