Last year, Washington & Lee was only a game away from the basketball postseason. This year, head coach George Hunter is excited about his team’s prospects.
“I’m not saying what we are going to do, but as a team from top to bottom we’re stronger than we’ve been in a while,” said Hunter. “[In the district] I think this is the first year we’ll compete every night. Not saying we’re going to win a lot of games, but this team will not give up no matter the score or who they are playing.”
In their first scrimmage against Spotsylvania and after two practices, the Eagles won four of the six quarters played.
Kwame Gray and CJ Harris return to the team this season joining a large group of newcomers including Terrin Dickerson, Jeremy Turner, Marik Roy and Damien Henry.
Hunter said he sees Essex as one of the strongest teams to keep an eye out for.
Hunter, along with Brandon Laws and Delonte Williams will round out the coaching staff this season. Eugene Greene returns as the head JV basketball coach.
Last season, the team fell in the opening round of the Northern Neck District Tournament falling to soon-to-be state champion Lancaster 81-45.
The Eagles will open the season at home against King George on Nov. 27 with the JV starting at 6 p.m. and varsity game to follow. Then on Nov. 29, the varsity team will host their first home game against Colonial Beach at 7:30 p.m. following the girls’ game at 6 p.m. This game will not be counted towards anyone’s district record.
Moving ahead in the schedule, the varsity teams will host the annual Golden Eagles Booster Club Classic against Rappahannock on Dec. 28 starting at 6 p.m. with the girls’ game at 7:30 p.m. with the boys.
The Eagles will open the regular season district schedule on Jan. 4 at Northumberland and then host the defending state champion Lancaster Red Devils on Jan. 8. JV games begin at 6 p.m. followed by the varsity at 7:30 p.m.
If the team finishes as having one of top four records in the district, they will advance to the Northern Neck District Boys Basketball Tournament at Lancaster High School starting Feb. 13.
A single starter returns this season for the Washington & Lee Girls’ Basketball Team following the departure of many players a year ago. But the news doesn’t sound as discouraging to the coaching staff, with 42 ladies trying out for the team this season.
Beginning on Nov. 27, the Lady Eagles will start the season after last year’s rollercoaster season. Coach Kelsey Farmer returns this season to lead the Eagles along with new JV coach Heidi Steffan.
“It was really exciting,” said Farmer following tryouts. “We finally have an interest in girls playing sports that haven’t played sports, which means we have a lot that haven’t played…we’re very young and very green.”
Farmer said it’s going to take a lot of work for those girls to reach they level the coaching staff would like.
“I know most of them played for the middle school basketball team in the fall, and so they were able to get a little practice in and motivation to tryout,” said Steffan. “I really do see a lot of talent with the team already in their dedication and attitude for learning.”
Jade White is the only returning starter from last season’s team. Farmer said a challenge for White this season is bringing up the inexperienced players.
“She is definitely the heart and soul of my team. She is growing as a basketball player and an individual,” Farmer said. “She is stepping up to help out her younger teammates because most of them are freshmen this year.”
With so many new faces, Farmer said she could not single out an individual top newcomer. In the meantime, she is preparing for some stiff competition before the regular season district schedule in January.
“I’m looking for the girls to make basketball their second priority, they are students first,” Farmer said. “Start enjoying being out here. We have a ton of volleyball and softball players, let’s start getting some dedicated basketball players.”
The Eagles ended the season with an overall record of 10-9 and 4-6 in the district. The team missed the Northern Neck District Tournament, but advanced to the Region A Division 2 playoffs. They dropped their third consecutive game that year to Northumberland, 56-42.
The Eagles will open the season on the road at King George on Nov. 27 with the JV starting at 6 p.m. and varsity game to follow. Then on Nov. 29, the varsity team will host their first home game against Colonial Beach at 6 p.m. followed by the boys’ varsity game at 7:30 p.m. This game will not be counted as a district contest.
Moving ahead in the schedule, the varsity teams will host the annual Golden Eagles Booster Club Classic against Rappahannock on Dec. 28 starting at 6 p.m. with the girls’ game and at 7:30 p.m. with the boys. This game will not be counted towards anyone’s district record.
The Eagles will open the regular season district schedule on Jan. 3 hosting the defending regular season champions and Region A Division 2 runners-up Northumberland starting at 6 p.m. with the JV game followed by the varsity. Lewis Howard is the third coach to take over the Northumberland Girls Basketball Team in the past three seasons. Allison Cockrell stepped down to become the co-athletic director and varsity softball coach.
If the team finishes as having one of top four records in the district, they will advance to the Northern Neck District Girls Basketball Tournament at Lancaster High School starting Feb. 12.