One of the most surprising endings for the Rappahannock Girls basketball team will leave targets on their backs as the roll into this season. Last year, the girls not only won the Region A Division 1 Championship, but also advanced to the first round of the Group A Division 1 State Championship Tournament.
It was a short lived experienced for the Lady Raiders in Richmond, but not a forgotten year after the team finished fourth in the district and went on to claim a region championship.
“Last year the Northern Neck was the toughest district in the region and I think the play in the Northern Neck District prepared us for the region tournament,” said Gaines. “I told the girls they have a target on their back and so people are expecting you to defend that as defending region champions…and they have to work hard to live up to that.”
Rappahannock’s offense took a big loss losing last year’s district leading scorer Harmony Smith due graduation. She averaged at least 19 points per game.
“That’s a big loss and you have to make those points happen,” Gaines said. “I think we have the potential to fill that gap. It’s just a matter of how hard they are willing to work.”
Rappahannock’s dynamic front court made up of Selene Epps, Kelsey Berhalter and Cedara Ashton will be returning this for the Raiders. Gaines said Ashton will be slow to join the team after her recovery from pulling her Achilles tendon. She said she expects top returner Rhiannon Mulvena to step in her place. Along with Mulvena, Keshawna Veney is another top returner that will play shooting guard.
Ashley Towles, Lasheonia Smith, Alontra Newton, Crystal Byrd, Lexi Hanks, Nakya Ward and Harmony Price will round out the roster.
The following ladies will be on this year’s JV team: Rachel Douglas, Elizabeth France, Destini Lucas, Megan Elbourn, Megan Baughan, Kayla Ward, Kira Adams, Madison Pierson, Sarah Taylor, Samantha Ellis, Cameron Sanders, Kaetlin Chatham and Mary Alyce Bronner.
Rappahannock will open the season against Mathews on Nov. 29 beginning at 6 p.m. with the JV followed by the Varsity.
In Jonas Ankrom’s first season as the head coach of the Rappahannock boys’ basketball team, his players were undefeated after five games. Unfortunately, the next 13 games didn’t go as well, with the team dropping 12 of them, failing to reach the postseason.
But for Ankrom and his players, it is all about learning from past mistakes and taking those lessons to the championship.
“It’s a huge motivation when I point that out to them all the time that just because you win a game doesn’t mean anything,” said Ankrom. “I tell them you have got a long season…just because you reach your goal in one game you have got to keep looking forward to the next win.”
Since the start of the school year, players from have been working out and preparing for the season ahead as one of the youngest teams in the Northern Neck District.
After watching their girls team win the regional championship last year, Ankrom said he hopes that attitude of determination will rub off on his team.
“Its’ about playing your best basketball in February,” Ankrom said. “They got hot at the right time and won quite a few games, won the region tournament and ended up having a great season because of it.”
Seven of the boys’ team varsity players were on the football team this season, Ankrom said, adding that the challenge will be getting them all ready for the season.
Returning for the Raiders this season includes returners Tevin Fisher, Tyler Spear and Kilivante Newton. Newton is recovering from a fractured fiba bone, Ankrom said, adding that he hopes to have him back before the regular district season begins in January.
Ankrom said he has high hopes for top newcomer Kelvonte Ellis, who he projects to be a great standout athlete in the district.
“We have a young and inexperienced, but we’re more athletic this year than last,” Ankrom said. “How well we play as a group unselfishly we’ll determine our success this year.”
Rounding out the team this season includes DeShawn Thompson, Howard Plummer, Tylek Sorell, JaQuann Thompson, Tevin Fisher, Marcus Byrd, Eamonn Collins, Marcus Ball and Dominique Fletcher.
Daries Brooks Ronald Johnson, Justin Wilmouth,
Devin Sission, Jarrett Gordon, Andre Brown, Thomas Lewis, LaQuan Brown, Michael Gaines, Maliek Veney and Javon Gillis.
Rappahannock will open the season on the road at Mathews on Nov. 29, return home after three road games to host Mathews on Dec. 11 and last year’s defending region playoff team Middlesex on Dec. 14. Games on all nights start at 6 p.m. with the JV followed by the Varsity.
On Dec. 28, Rappahannock’s Varsity Basketball Teams and will travel to Washington & Lee for the Golden Eagles Booster Club Classic beginning at 6 p.m. with the girls followed by the boys afterwards. Rappahannock will begin the district regular season on the road at Colonial Beach on Jan. 4. The JV will tip off first at 6 p.m. followed by the Varsity.