Lady Chargers return four starters
Nine veterans, including four starters, return to the Middlesex High School varsity girls basketball team that was 10-0 in the Tidewater District and advanced to the State Group A Tournament last season.
This season the Lady Chargers have a deeper bench and add five new players with junior varsity experience, said head coach William Griffin. “This year’s team is very talented and what I’m most interested in is the fact I have five girls who can come off the bench and contribute greatly,” said Griffin. “That gives me a lot of confidence. Last year my bench was not as strong.”
He said the new girls are pushing the returning players for playing time.
Those five reserves will be mixed in with the veterans to keep the team fresh, Griffin added. “We are going to put a lot of pressure on teams. We will be defensive-minded with an up-tempo offense.”
The Lady Chargers, who were 22-6 overall last season, are in Division II (the higher division) of the Tidewater District.
The Lady Chargers begin this season at home against Northumberland on Tuesday, December 2.
On December 3 and 6, the MHS girls will play in the James Monroe Tournament in Fredericksburg.
Their first district game is January 5 at Colonial Beach.
Griffin expects his toughest district competition to come from West Point and Mathews. Region A powerhouses include Lancaster and Northumberland, he added.
The Lady Chargers have six returning seniors, two juniors and one sophomore.
Senior co-captain Ashae Burnett (5’11”) was All-Region and All-District last year and is the Lady Chargers’ leading returning scorer and rebounder. “I expect a lot from her,” said Griffin. Burnett is within 130 points of having 1,000 career points.
“Ashae is one of our major players, and opponents will come after her,” said Griffin. “But she is mentally prepared for that.”
Point guard and senior floor leader Katrina Reed (5’0”) also returns to the starting lineup. “This year Katrina’s assignment is to increase her scoring, taking the place of [graduated] Sherita Burse,” said Griffin. Burse was a standout guard on last year’s team.
Junior co-captain Micah Reed, (5’11”) led the Lady Chargers in scoring and rebounding in the playoffs. “I’m looking for her to pick it up and give us that added scoring we need,” said Griffin. “She also is a very good defensive player and we will be looking for her leadership.”
Senior power forward Kiersten Baylor (5’8”) “is the energy on the floor and she leads our fastbreak,” said Griffin. “She’s very vocal and energetic on the floor and on the bench. She makes sure the girls stay up and keep their heads in the game.” Baylor made second team All-District last year.
Junior Tanika Kimble (5’7”), a shooting forward, is a strong rebounder with a good inside shot. “We’ll look for her to help us in our spread offense,” said Griffin.
Sophomore Amanda Brown (5’0”) is Griffin’s number two guard. “She’s coming along great. I will be looking for her also to play a lot at point guard. She has a good shot, and she’s getting her shooting confidence back.”
Senior Kimberly Ammons (5’7”) has experience at forward and has become an excellent shooter, said Griffin. “She had a good off-season. I’ve always known she’s had the potential to be a good shooter. She’s looking good in practice and I’m looking for her to start lighting up the scoreboard.”
Senior Whitney Walton (5’5”) is picking up where she left off last season with her defensive efforts, said Griffin. “It looks like she hasn’t missed a beat.”
Senior Kristen Andrews (5’10”) will give Micah Reed some relief at center. “She’s a very good rebounder,” said Griffin.
New varsity players
Meagan Payne (5’7”), the only freshman to make varsity squad, has “unlimited potential,” said Griffin. “She will be a force in the paint as a forward and gives 100 percent in scoring and rebounding. She will see starting time, is a good student of the game, and brings a lot of heart and a will to win to the team.”
Sophomore Brianna Brooks (5’2”) was moved up to varsity at the end of last season. “She has a lot of talent and brings quickness and knowledge of the game at the point guard position,” said Griffin.
Sophomore Raquel Pierce has moved up from the JVs and will be a forward. “She’s very active and brings high energy to the team. She’s an all-out defensive player,” said Griffin.
Sophomore Chelsea Lewter (5’2”) “brings quickness at guard,” said Griffin. “She’s a very competitive athlete will be fighting to get a starting position.”
Ashley Williams (5’10”) also brings a lot energy and size, said Griffin. “By midseason she could see a lot of time at center.”
Griffin’s assistant coaches again include Karen Lewis and Neil Wake, and JV coaches Mike Lewis and Bennie Burrell. “All of us work well together,” said Griffin. “They bring a lot of knowledge of the game.”
The JVs play at 6 p.m. and are followed by varsity games at 7:30 p.m.