For folks in Natchitoches some things just seem to remain constant: Christmas lights at holiday time, horse-drawn carriages on Front Street, potholes, and the NCHS Lady Chiefs basketball team in the LHSAA playoffs!
In her eighth year as head coach, Nikki Jones has never failed to have the Lady Chiefs in the playoff hunt. As a matter of fact, under Coach Jones the Lady Chiefs have advanced to the quarterfinals or beyond in seven of her eight years at the helm – including a state finals appearance 2018, and semifinal berths in 2016, 2017, and 2020 as well). That is a playoff run that few programs in any sport anywhere can claim. Because of all that success, Coach Jones has seen eight of her former players leave NCHS to further their playing career and education at the collegiate level.
This year seems to be no different as the Lady Chiefs have earned a 21st seed in this year’s bracket, drawing a familiar district foe, the Benton Lady Tigers. Due to weather conditions this week the game has been set for Saturday at 4 p.m. in Benton.
The Lady Chiefs and Lady Tigers did not get a chance to square off this season due to Covid precautions for both previously scheduled district contests. The Lady Tigers have not played since Jan. 26, something that Coach Jones has noted as a possible advantage for the Lady Chiefs.
Losing four starters from last year’s squad that reached the semifinals, the Lady Chiefs (12-8) are an extremely young team this season but have rebounded and responded in an otherwise already difficult year.
Of her Lady Chiefs, Coach Jones says, “What I like most about this team is how resilient they are. We’ve had our share of growing pains throughout this season with being a young team but they never gave up. They come in and work every day to get better. Sometimes, as coaches, we overlook that because our focus is on what we’re not good at and we forget to notice their progress. I am extremely proud of their progress this year and I am excited to see what the future holds for our Lady Chiefs.”
The Lady Chiefs will host the second round if they advance past Benton.
Photo: provided by NCHS