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Jim Ned girls basketball ready for more tough competition

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TUSCOLA, Texas - Despite their brutal non-district schedule, the Jim Ned Lady Indians are having another successful season.

A 10-6 record may not intimidate on first glance, however when you look at the competition Jim Ned has faced it should.

The Lady Indians have beaten Wylie on the road, ranked 16th in Class 4A by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, while falling to Brownwood (#6 in 4A) by three, and to Wall (#5 in 3A) by two.

The challenging slate continues as Jim Ned plays in the 60th annual Whataburger Tournament in Fort Worth.

"It gets us mentally prepared for the next games," senior guard Jolie Branch said. "If we just played easy games all year we wouldn't be prepared for those rough situations in the playoffs. I think our pre-season prepares us for the post-season and gives us a better shot in the long run."

Head coach Hunter Cooley said this will be at least the sixth straight season for the Lady Indians to play in the prestigious tournament which collects the best teams from in and out of Texas.

Jim Ned will face Nazareth, the top ranked team in Class A and the defending state champions, to start the tournament on Thursday night at 7 at Saginaw High School.

"You're going to play four opponents, that if you don't bring your 'A' game can embarrass you," Cooley said. "It's kind of a wake-up call to get you back on track to everything you've done pre-season and get you ready for district play."

Last season the Lady Indians ran off 13 straight wins following the Whataburger Tournament before losing in the third round of the 3A playoffs to Brock.

The Jim Ned program has become a consistent area power, including a state championship in 2007.

"Our kids have a good work ethic and that starts at home," said Cooley. "That's not something you give them when they walk into middle school or high school. Today, fi you're not playing 12 months out of the year you're falling behind. There's that determination to continue the tradition and it comes from the parents."

"It's just what Jim Ned's about, girls basketball," added Branch. "We start so young we just find some much joy in the game." 

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