Young, diligent Lady Statesmen

Published 1:46 pm Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The junior varsity (JV) Lady Statesmen on the hardwood may not have piled up many wins this year, but they showed potential to do so in the future, earning the respect of their head coach, Randolph-Henry High School Athletic Hall of Famer Monique Williams.

“As a whole, I am very proud of these young ladies,” she said. “They are a very young team with great work ethic. That is probably what I valued most about it. They have a will and desire to do well, get better and learn the game. As they get more knowledgeable and grow their ‘basketball IQ,’ they will become more and more competitive in (the James River District) JRD as a whole and eventually in the region when they become varsity players.”

The JV Lady Statesmen finished the 2018-19 season with an overall record of 5-12, placing sixth in the district.

Williams reflected on the high and low points of the campaign.

“One of the key points in defining our team, I believe, was when we lost to Nottoway,” she said. “We were riding a 3-0 start, which was HOT. I think it had a lot of people talking. But that Nottoway game rocked them a little bit. Our starting point guard fouled out, and she was a strong asset to the program. The girls never fully recovered, and after that, our key scorer fouled out. It was a game that really challenged them to handle their emotions with sports.”

Host Nottoway High School prevailed 25-22 in that Jan. 2 game.

“I spoke with them afterwards about the importance of keeping your head and cool under pressure instead of playing with your emotions all over the place, because you are unable to think clearly and logically,” Williams said.

The coach then turned her attention to the contest prior to the Nottoway game, a Dec. 18 road showdown.

“Our best all-around game was when we played against (the) Central Chargers,” Williams said. “The girls played so well as a team. They encouraged each other, executed the offense and never let up on their hustle and attack.”

Randolph-Henry (R-H) won that game 37-13.

None of the nine players on the team’s roster failed to develop as players.

“I can say something about EACH and every one of my ‘Divine 9’ because they all showed so much growth through the season in many ways,” Williams said.

She did point to a quartet of key contributors.

“Quamesha Brown moved up to the varsity level towards the second half of the season,” the coach said. “By far she is an all-around player, and when she is on, she is fire. She produced some big and key plays on the varsity level, and she was a spark that we missed on the JV team.”

Next, Williams highlighted freshman guard Taylor Trent as “probably one of the most athletic girls we have here at R-H. Naturally, she is a softball player, and has only been playing basketball for about 2-3 years, but she has a high and strong work ethic. She really developed at the point guard position.

“She is definitely going to be valuable in filling some shoes on the varsity level with Coach Jack losing three starting guards,” Williams continued. “She got to see some action on varsity at the end of the season too.”

Williams said eighth-grade center Misha Clark played the most minutes out of anyone on the team this past season.

“She is a solid post player who is learning her craft,” the coach said. “I think that she has the potential to be a force in R-HHS girls basketball with increased confidence and an offense — teammates — that feeds the inside. She is a wonderful athlete to coach, and with some work and potential new additions to our guard lineup, I think we can see her dominating more in the inside next year with more touches. She has the presence and size and works hard on her footwork. Her drop step is pretty consistent and added some much needed baskets for us.”

Last but not least, freshman guard/forward Shakayln Roberts drew praise from Williams.

“Shakayln Roberts improved significantly and the most over the season,” the coach said. “She is a quick and scrappy guard that proved to be ‘annoying’ for other teams’ offenses because she just wanted to get the ball and went after it. With some continued work, she can become a true lockdown defensive player. Her ball-handling, shooting and decision-making on the court were the key improvements to her game.”