PONTOTOC • Ripley’s offense runs through Siarra Jackson, but it very much starts with Amelya Hatch.
The rising senior has grown into the ideal point guard for Lady Tigers coach Steve Willey. Hatch drew a few starts as a freshman and has held the job full time since her sophomore year.
“She has a lot of tools and has improved every year,” Willey said. “Got a lot of court sense, finds the open man and works really hard at her game.”
All of Hatch’s tools were on display on Tuesday during summer league action. She picked apart Pine Grove’s guards and consistently found Jackson for easy buckets in a 49-29 win.
“A lot of the offense is on me because I’m the point guard, because we have to get everybody in their places,” Hatch said. “We know if we throw the ball to Siarra, she’ll catch it and finish it.”
Jackson, a 5-foot-8 forward, averaged 22 points per game last season, while Hatch averaged 10 points and 4 assists.
They led the Lady Tigers to the Class 4A state final, losing there to Louisville, 35-31. With nearly everyone returning from that squad, Ripley could make another run to Jackson.
“Sometimes I think about it, and it makes me work that much harder,” Hatch said of that loss. “But we don’t try to think about that much because we can’t dwell on the past.”
Hard work is what’s gotten her this far. Hatch will often ask Willey if she can stay after practice to put up some more shots.
Hatch said her biggest improvements over the years have been ball handling and decision making. She’s also made big strides on the defensive end, where her quick feet and quick hands are an asset.
“She’s a pleasure to coach,” Willey said. “She’s a pleaser. She wants to not only please her parents but please her teachers and please her teammates.”