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Underclassmen played star roles at every Suffolk school this past season

Andrew Giermak

When talking about girls basketball in Suffolk this past winter, there are two main things to take away from the season.

First and foremost, after winning nine games last season, King’s Fork built their second season in school history into a 22-4 season and an Eastern Region quarterfinalist season.

Fork was the first Suffolk school, since the City’s schools moved to Group AAA in 1996, to reach the regional girls’ basketball tournament.

For the whole season, these were the only two teams that stopped Fork.

Hampton – The Lady Crabbers have, including this season, won six consecutive Peninsula District regular season titles.

Indian River n IR made it five straight Southeastern regular season titles this year.

The Lady Braves made the state semis in 2004 and the state final in 2003.

In three tough losses to the Lady Braves, the total margin IR held over KF was 12 points.

The second thing to remember is “youth.”

Sure, everyone in high school is quite young, but it seems especially so watching many of the talented players around Suffolk the last few months.

At Lakeland, freshman Terika Lunsford and sweet-shooting sophomore LeCetra Arrington were two of the Lady Cavaliers’ leaders.

Freshman Kaylyn Chatman also played early and often for the Lady Cavs.

For the Lady Warriors, freshman Andrea Jones showed she’s following quite closely in her older brother’s footsteps.

Jones put up numerous 20-plus-point games and was named the team’s MVP.

Sophomore Brittany Pulliam, when not equally busy with spiking volleyballs or being a state-caliber high jumper, will continue to be a key interior player for the Lady Warrior basketball squad.

Nansemond-Suffolk had a 9-4 record midway through the season, and then struggled in TCIS play down the stretch.

But, along the way, freshman Jenna Starkey became a key point guard for the Lady Saints.

First-team TCIS selection Michelle Boucher will also be returning next season for NSA.

And for the Lady Bulldogs, they had to have a bunch of experience to pull off the record they did this year, right?

Well, unfortunately for the rest of the Southeastern District, that answer is “no.”

Only seniors Latora King and Tanisha Williams will be departing this Lady Bulldog team and King’s Fork had the best freshman of the whole bunch, Tashonna Rodgers.

“Sugar,” as anyone with anything to do with King’s Fork already knows her, was outstanding game-in and game-out as the Lady Bulldogs’ point guard, shooting guard, small forward or power forward, whatever happened to be needed.

Rodgers often piled up double-digit nights in rebounds while also, on the same night, hitting multiple three-pointers.

When teams took away her three-point shots, Rodgers would smoothly drive to the basket and finish with at least two points, and sometimes three points anyway.

Rodgers already, with three years left to go up against Southeastern competition, plays very composed, intelligently and unselfishly.

Because of this season for Rodgers and the Lady Bulldogs, the rest of the district and region competition knows all too well how long those three years will be.