Lady Crusaders enter season together

Published 9:49 pm Saturday, November 26, 2011

First Baptist’s Hannah Fagan looks for a shot in last year’s championship game of the Seven Cities Athletic Conference Tournament. Gateway won the title with a 44-32 win. First Baptist finished second in the league in the season and the tournament.

First Baptist’s girls basketball team finished second, in the season and conference tournament, in the Seven Cities Athletic Conference a season ago.

The Lady Crusader team is relying on “team” as the critical idea to get back to that level or, better yet, knock off undefeated conference champ Gateway Christian.

The small private school, still in its young, growing stages in all of its athletic programs, lost a lot of experienced players to graduation and transfers. The Lady Crusaders also have a new head coach, but she’s not a new coach.

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Kristy Patton has coached, as either a head coach or an assistant, volleyball, softball and basketball for First Baptist. Patton assisted previous head coach Kelly Overton and gained a lot along the way.

“(Overton) brought me in. She taught me things and really helped me in many ways,” said Patton, who played basketball at Lakeland. This will be Patton’s first time as a head coach at a competitive level.

Patton enters into a unique challenge. She’s leading a varsity squad with players ranging from freshmen to seniors — actually, just one senior.

Megan Farmer is the lone starter returning and the lone Lady Crusader senior. Farmer, as a forward, has been one of First Baptist’s top rebounders and defenders for the last three seasons.

“We’re looking to her to be a leader, to show the younger kids coming up how you have to play at a varsity level,” Patton said.

“We have girls who’ve played at all levels, from not at all to several years on varsity,” Patton said. “It’s a good opportunity for mentorship and for the older girls to show leadership.”

Even the returning varsity veterans will be advancing into larger roles, though.

Forward Caitlin Hankins and guard Hannah Fagan played a lot of important minutes as reserves last season. Their play, and playing time in important stretches of games, improved as the Lady Crusaders improved in reaching second place in the Seven Cities. Heading into this new season, Hankins and Fagan are experienced leaders.

“We don’t have anyone used to being the leading scorer on a team,” Patton said.

While an obstacle, it can also be an outstanding way to build a solid team, Patton said.

“Our strength will have to be everyone relying on each other and the girls already do that,” she said.

“All five girls have to continue to rely on each other and work hard for a common goal. We don’t have stars, but we have kids with talent who are working,” Patton said.

Janna Williams, who came from Lakeland to First Baptist this school year and was a key player on the Crusader volleyball team in the fall, is a newcomer, as is Anna Carr, who’s moving from Crusader cheerleader last winter to the basketball squad.

Anna’s older sister Victoria was an all-conference player for multiple seasons. Anna was a two-sport standout in the same season this fall, playing volleyball and joining the boys soccer team in midseason when injuries made the Crusader roster too thin.

“We’re trying to learn a lot in a short amount of time, but the girls are working hard and working together,” Patton said.

The Lady Crusaders start off with a home game on Tuesday against Virginia Beach Friends. First Baptist goes into a busy schedule after that, with six games in 12 days before a long Christmas and New Year’s break.


First Baptist

2011-12 Girls basketball schedule

Head coach – Kristy Patton

Games start at 5:30 p.m. unless noted. Home games are in CAPS.


Mon. 12/5 at Ryan Academy

Tues. 12/6 GATEWAY

Thurs. 12/8 at Summit

Mon. 12/12 at Ahoskie (5 p.m.)

Tues. 12/13 BINA (6:30 p.m.)

Fri. 12/16 VERITAS

Tues. 1/3 BINA (6:30 p.m.)

Tues. 1/10 at Gateway

Fri. 1/13 at Beach (6:30 p.m.)

Mon. 1/23 at Alliance (6:30 p.m.)

Tues. 1/24 SUMMIT

Sat. 1/28 CHESAPEAKE BAY (4 p.m.)

Tues. 1/31 VERITAS

Fri. 2/3 at Va. Beach Friends (6:30 p.m.)

Tues. 2/7 AHOSKIE (5 p.m.)

Mon. 2/13 BEACH