Review: State championship

Published 7:13 pm Saturday, December 25, 2010

Champions: Lakeland’s eight field hockey seniors, from left, Taylor Young, Marissa Betkowski, Brittany Milteer, Jennifer Hedrick, Kendell Combs, Olivia Graham, Kelsey Smither, Megan Johnson and head coach Tara Worley hold their newly-won VHSL Group AAA State Championship trophy and the VHSL Sportsmanship Award trophy following their state final win over Mountain View. Lakeland went 24-0 for the first team state championship for a Cavalier team since the school’s move to Group AAA in 1996.

A goal more than a decade in the making was reached when Lakeland beat Mountain View 3-0 for the VHSL Group AAA state field hockey championship.

The title was the first for a Cavalier team since Lakeland’s move from Group AA to AAA in 1996. The Lady Cavaliers went 24-0, won their eight postseason matches by a combined score of 42-2 and finished ranked No. 4 in the nation according to

Senior midfielder Kelsey Smither broke the national high school record for assists in a career with 124. Senior forward Kendell Combs scored 44 goals for the season to finish with 109 in her four-year career, making her sixth all-time nationally for a high school career. Senior goalkeeper Marissa Betkowski tied the state record with 19 shutouts in a season.

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“I had a feeling about this group of seniors six years ago at Forest Glen,” said Lakeland head coach and Forest Glen Middle School physical education teacher Tara Worley at a title celebration rally at Lakeland.

“(A state title) was a dream of mine for a long time,” said Worley, “so I thank you for making my dream come true.”

Lakeland retired the No. 23 field hockey jersey of Kelsey Smither, her older sister Katelyn and in honor of their father Ed. Ed Smither Jr. was a teacher, coach and athletic director at Lakeland from 1990 until his passing on Nov. 13, 2004. The Lady Cavaliers won the state final on Nov. 13, 2010.

With wins on the last two Friday nights of the football season King’s Fork won the city football crown for the second straight season.

The Bulldogs beat Lakeland 13-0 and Nansemond River 20-6. Backup quarterback DeQuan Fofana led the Bulldogs to three straight wins to finish the season. Fofana rushed for three touchdowns in his first start, a 20-13 win over Western Branch.

Nansemond River senior defensive end Dewayne Alford verbally committed to a scholarship offer to play football at Virginia Tech prior to the high school season getting underway.

Alford will be joining King’s Fork grad Dominique Patterson, who is a true freshman linebacker for the Hokies. Virginia Tech won its fourth ACC championship in its seven years in the league and will face Stanford in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3.

King’s Fork’s girls volleyball team went from a winless season in 2009 to contending a Southeastern District playoff spot until the last couple matches of the 2010 season under head coach Sarah Whitfield.

The Lady Bulldogs finished 9-10 overall and were 8-6 after a couple winning streaks during the middle of the season.

Nansemond-Suffolk’s boys volleyball team went from three wins in 2009 to a 14-3 record and second place in the Tidewater Conference in 2010. All three Saint losses, including in the TCIS Tournament final, were to Cape Henry.

Nansemond-Suffolk senior Ray Ramirez sets for a teammate during a Tidewater Conference Tournament match. The Saints went from three wins in 2009 to a 14-3 record in 2010 under head coach Michele Bossick. Ramirez will play volleyball at Princeton starting next fall.

Senior setter Ray Ramirez, in his fifth year on the varsity team, led the Saints and is going to Princeton next year where he’ll join one of the few Div. 1 men’s volleyball programs in the east.

King’s Fork grad Davante Gardner accepted a basketball scholarship from the Big East’s Marquette in the spring and quickly began making an impact in the post for the Golden Eagles in the early stages of the 2010-11 season.

The 6-foot-8, 290-pound forward had 17 points, five rebounds and two blocks in 13 minutes in his Marquette debut. Marquette is 9-3 through the pre-Big East part of its schedule. Gardner missed or was limited in a few games because of a shoulder injury but is averaging 7.4 points in 10.8 minutes per game.

Georgetown sophomore TaShauna Rodgers, King’s Fork’s all-time leading scorer in girls basketball, was named Tournament MVP at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the early part of the Lady Hoya hoop season.

Rodgers led GU to an upset win over then-No. 4 Tennessee. Rodgers scored 28 points and made 5-of-7 three-pointers in the 69-58 win over the Lady Volunteers.

The 5-foot-11 guard earned preseason All-American and All-Big East honors. She’s averaging 17.5 points per game. Georgetown is 9-3 overall with conference play approaching.