"It's going to take a lot of heart. A lot of motivation. Grind. We gotta want it."
"Defense, defense, defense."
"Right here, can't give up now."
"Leave it all on the court."
Those are just a few words motivating the West Jones Lady Mustangs (26-7) before their 5A state title game against the Natchez Lady Bulldogs (23-1).
"I really can't explain it," head coach Sharon Murray said during the team's final practice on their home court. "It's just going to be an awesome feeling when we get that ball, if we get it because it hasn't been here for 20 years."
West Jones last won a title in the 1994-1995 season and while the gap between state championships may be vast, sophomore Brianna Page credited Murray for having the Lady Mustangs on the cusp of glory in a relatively short time at the helm.
"She's been pushing us all year," Page said. "Very hard working coach. Very motivated."
Murray said about her team that "they've worked hard especially here at the end of the season. They just really turned their intensity up."
Senior Zan Ratcliffe spoke about the Lady Mustangs work ethic leading up to the final game of the season.
"When one person wasn't there or didn't show up that night we always had another person to step up."
If the team steps up for a win Friday against the defending champs, Murray said it will be the culmination of a lot of effort.
"[We've] been rebuilding for the last two years and they've just worked extremely hard. I'm extremely proud of them. I'm just grateful."
Tip-off against Natchez is set for 6 p.m. at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.