By Thomas Dozier
If you thought this was a rebuilding year for the L.C. Bird girls’ basketball team, you might want to think again.
All the Skyhawks did was post an 18-9 overall record a before ending their season with a 73-50 loss to the three-time defending 5A state champion Princess Anne at Hermitage High School on Saturday.
The Princess Anne Cavaliers, who have won three consecutive state titles and seven overall, went onto state with a 24-2 record.
As for L.C. Bird, under the direction of veteran coach Chevette Waller, it was a terrific season, even though they won’t be following its boys’ basketball counterparts in pursuit of a state tournament run.
“I just think we have big hearts,” Waller explained about this excellent season. “They don’t know the expectations so they go with the flow and buy into the what the coaches have put on the table.
“At this point, we’re trying to play spoilers. It gives them experience and hopefully next year and the years after, they’ll be in a good position.”
Even though the final game was the 5A South Region consolation game, Waller and her team know it is only a couple of pieces away from making a big splash.
“It motivates everyone,” she said. “To make a statement we need to find a big. All the state contenders [have a big]. They have a spaghetti and a meatball, we have a lot of little meatballs.
“Brina [Bentley] has been with the program for three years. She doesn’t get as much attention because her stats don’t look good. She’s the glue. Anytime she comes out of the game, the style of play goes down.”
Bentley, one of the two captains, is the lone senior on the squad. She averaged 11 points and eight rebounds per game while the other captain, sophomore Mya Coleman, led the team with 12 points per game and nine rebounds per game. Also, freshman Jaden Watkins had a nice season with 10 points and eight rebounds per game.They were surrounded by juniors Shayla Harvey, Diamond Gaskins, Zaria Booth, and Imani Booth; sophomores Jayla Henderson, Kiyah Shaw, and Ashley Johnston; and first-year players Kielle Shaw, Kameron Brown, Jasmine James, and Juanita James.
Next season, with these ingredients for L.C. Bird, it might be the time for that recipe to come to fruition.
The Skyhawks opened the season with a 55-45 loss to LIS Conference power St. Catherine’s but proceeded to reel off seven straight wins – in order – over Matoaca, Varina, Nansemond River, Hermitage, Freedom, Granby, and George Wythe before suffering their second loss of the season Jan. 5 to Monacan.
In fact, L.C. Bird’s losses came to Atlantic Shores (27-4), Cosby (22-4), James River (16-8), Highland Springs three times (24-1), Monacan (27-0) and Princess Anne (25-12), which is a combined record of 141-19.