For a shooter, confidence is everything. Even though Kenedi Walker was an integral part of Hattiesburg’s run to a state championship last season, she lacked confidence in her shot.
So in the offseason, Walker spent most of her time in the gym putting up shots. She hoped that dedication to her craft would be a springboard to a stellar senior season with the Lady Tigers.
“I had to step up and do what I had to do on offense to help the team,” Walker said.
On opening night against Harrison Central, she drained three three-pointers. A few days later, she nailed four against Meridian. Somewhere between those two games, Walker got that confidence she had been searching for. It’s still there today and continues to grow.
In January, Walker averaged a team-high 18 points per game for Hattiesburg and shot better than 50 percent from behind the arc. The shooting guard was a driving force behind the Lady Tigers going a perfect 6-0 in the month.
“She [Walker] has been shooting the ball really well for us, which is something that we need to do,” Hattiesburg coach Caronica DeBose Jackson said. “I told them that in order for our inside game to open up and get shots for our big girls, they were gonna have to shoot the ball a whole lot better. She really stepped up and made some big shots for us in the month of January.”
Walker also continued to showcase her importance on the defensive end of the floor.
“When we press, she’s always in the top spot,” Jackson added. “She’s always the person on the ball or playing in the passing lane, so she’s actually up on that hot spot and ends up getting a lot of steals for us.”
Walker averaged five steals per game in January.
“It makes it easier on the offense,” she said.
More often than not, the Lady Tigers made winning look easy in January. All but one of their six wins were decided by 30-plus points. With the regular season over, now they’ve turned their attention to the Region 7-5A Tournament. After that comes the playoffs and potentially another trip to Jackson. Walker believes the Lady Tigers are getting closer and closer to playing as well as they did during their state championship run last year.
“We got some more improving to do, but I feel like we got what it takes to go back and get another ring,” she said.