Lady Bulldogs start life without Sugar

Published 10:35 pm Wednesday, December 2, 2009

For four seasons, TaShauna “Sugar” Rodgers led King’s Fork’s girls basketball team to impressive heights such as district titles and regional playoff games.

Unfortunately for new head coach Maurice Fofana and this year’s Lady Bulldog basketball team, Rodgers is now starring and averaging more than 20 points per game for Georgetown University.

“There’s no replacing a McDonald’s All-American,” said Fofana. “A school has a player like Sugar maybe only once every 10 years, if you’re lucky.”

“We will be a small team. The big thing we’ll want to do is press and get out and run. We have some good outside shooters so we want to get out and run and take the open shots,” said Fofana, who took over for departed head coach Garry Murphy in July.

While Fofana believes the talent is there on his new team, getting everyone on the same page with a new coach is a difficult mission.

“It all comes back to kids feeding into your system. They need to believe what you’re telling them is the right thing to be doing,” said Fofana.

“There’s some adjustment to the things I’m requiring them to do and yes, some of it is hard, I think our practices now are much tougher than what they did last year,” said Fofana.

Part of that, he said, is from having a star such as Rodgers on the team. Everyone else on the team knew Rodgers could cover for a lot of mistakes. This year, it’s going to take equal contributions from every Lady Bulldog, but Fofana believes his team is excited for the challenge.

The Lady Bulldogs have five seniors, but only two who had a lot of playing time last season. Kiara Branch and Tamara Stone will be the main senior leaders. Branch and Stone are certainly two of the excellent long-range shooters Fofana is relying on.

Junior guard Whitney Nichols played point guard much of last season and will be a more important part of the Lady Bulldogs this year.

Fofana also highlights two players moving up from the JV squad; sophomore Shella Ewell and freshman Chantel Robertson.

“Coming in as a new coach, you always wish you could prepare a little more,” said Fofana as KF will open its season and move right into Southeastern District play on Friday against visiting Grassfield.

“A lot of teaching with a new team, it’s about teaching them on the go. You can’t teach everything in practice. Sometimes the best thing is to pull out the board during a game and put things out there that you’ve been working on,” said Fofana.