KFHS aims for new lookPublished 1:26pm Wednesday, November 27, 2013
King’s Fork High School’s girls’ basketball team will be a less experienced group than last year, but a few key returners should lead to a chance at another strong season.
The Lady Bulldogs were impressive in 2012-13. The 24-4 year came to a close with a 61-56 loss in the Eastern Region Tournament quarterfinals to eventual state champion Lake Taylor High School.
Graduation claimed such King’s Fork notables as wing players Chantel Roberts and Adrieanna McCrary, small forward Julissa Riddick and shooting guard Shikeyla Jordan.
KF head coach Maurice Fofana acknowledged the losses, but noted 6-foot-3-inch power forward/center Khadedra Croker will be back for her senior year.
“That’s half of your fight there,” he said.
She will help anchor a line-up redesigned due to the smaller stature of this year’s best players.
“We’re going to start two shooting guards and a point guard and two bigs,” Fofana said, in contrast to last season’s more conventional two-guard, two-forward and one-center line-up.
“They won’t be my team of last year, but I expect great things for them, too,” Fofana said, with his eyes on the state championship as the No. 1 goal.
Entering his fifth year coaching the team, Fofana is excited by the level of talent present on the roster, despite the youth.
“I have 11 kids,” he said. “I’m going to play all 11,” and probably eight or nine of them will hit the court in the first half.
The team features four seniors, three sophomores, two juniors and two freshmen.
Fofana said Croker is “clearly, by far, the best big girl in the state.” She has committed to play for Virginia Tech next fall.
Rather than go easy on her now, he plans to push her to improve more, for her own good.
“I’m not just looking for her to dominate for high school, but I want her to be a great college player, too,” Fofana said. “We’re trying to make sure that she’s ready by the end of the year.”
The coach also highlighted senior Brittany Alston as a leader and one of the best point guards in Virginia.
“She’s actually doing great in practice with leading the young girls,” Fofana said.
Senior shooting guard Shanell Pope came on strong last year as a 3-point shooter, and she will get many more opportunities this winter.
“She’s actually the outside threat that we’ll be looking for,” Fofana said, particularly to distract defenses from Croker near the hoop.
The team’s youth will have a representative in the starting line-up — freshman shooting guard Cydney Nichols, who brings ball-handling skills and versatility. She is a good jump shooter, but can operate down low, as well. Fofana said she fits in with the new three-guard scheme.
The team also includes a trio of up-and-coming underclassmen 6-footers. Sophomore small forward Latonia Thomas is a go-getter for the ball and real active around the basket.
Sophomore power forward Jazlyn Dunn is a little over 6 feet 1 inch, and Fofana looks forward to her development into a threat this year.
Freshman Amesha Miller is also 6 feet 1 inch, and Fofana expects her to play the third guard position when she comes in, hitting the 15-foot elbow jumper when needed, and potentially playing down low.
While younger players will need to adapt to the speed of the game, Fofana said the biggest challenge for all his players will be dealing with adversity, which he summarized as “being able to make a mistake and keep going.”
As for the Virginia High School League’s realignment, Fofana said, “I don’t really think it’s a big, dramatic change.” Whether the Lady Bulldogs are playing better teams or worse as a consequence, he said, “Anybody can beat anybody that one night.”
King’s Fork plays on the road Tuesday against Deep Creek High School to begin the season.