Year in Review: Diamonds, hardwood, sprinting, scholarships

Published 10:03 pm Friday, December 23, 2011

Lakeland seniors, from left, Marissa Betkowski, Jennifer Hedrick, Kelsey Smither, Taylor Young, Megan Johnson and Kendell Combs show their new school colors during their college signing ceremony at Lakeland in Feburary. All six are field hockey for their new schools: Betkowski and Combs at Virginia Commonwealth, Hedrick at Radford, Smither at Old Dominion, Young at Christopher Newport and Johnson at Liberty.

A memorable sports year at Lakeland started with one last special day for Lakeland’s 2010 state championship field hockey team.

Six seniors had their college signing day as a team in February. Marissa Betkowski and Kendell Combs are continuing as teammates at Virginia Commonwealth. Kelsey Smither is at Old Dominion, Jennifer Hedrick is at Radford. Megan Johnson is at Liberty and Taylor Young is at Christopher Newport.

The scholarship total, more than $60,000, for the day was more impressive than the 24-0 Lady Cavalier record in winning the state banner.

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“This is a historic day,” said Dr. Thomas Whitley, Lakeland’s principal.

“It’s the first time Lakeland has had six athletes on any one team go on to college programs and we’re very proud of you,” he said.

Nansemond River is used to postseason basketball. The Warrior boys team won the Southeastern District and reached the regional tournament in 2011.

The Lady Warriors, however, were the squad to make history by making the Eastern Region quarterfinals for the first time in school history.

The Lady Warriors were 19-7 overall and finished second in the district with a senior class of Kyri Davis, Kennia Webb, Cierra Mobley, Briana McClain and Kiara Washington. Junior center Delisha Sharpe led the Lady Warriors in scoring and rebounding.

“I know I’m not the easiest coach to deal with. I know I push them. Even beyond basketball I try to push them because life will push them. I hope I prepare them in some small way for what’s down the road,” said head coach Calvin Mason Sr.


Former King’s Fork star TaShauna “Sugar” Rodgers led Georgetown to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament in March, finishing a First-Team All-Big East season for Rodgers.

Rodgers was a unanimous All-Big East selection and the second-best scorer in the league, at 18.7 points per game, behind only Connecticut’s Maya Moore, who became the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft in April.

The Lady Hoyas beat Princeton and Maryland in the NCAA Tournament, with Rodgers pouring in a career-high 34 points against Maryland, before falling to No. 1-seeded Connecticut.

Rodgers set the program record for points in a season and broke her own record, set in her freshman season, for three-pointers made in a season.


Nansemond-Suffolk’s softball team went 18-4 and reached the Virginia Independent School State Tournament.

Once in states, though, the Lady Saints fell 9-4 to Paul VI as the guests from Northern Virginia returned the favor from NSA knocking them out of the state tournament in 2010.

Kelsey Ritter, Morgan Daughtrey, Macy Mears and Ugi Metzger earned All-Tidewater Conference accolades for the season. Ritter signed a scholarship to play softball at Winthrop University.

King’s Fork’s Joseph Hill runs the second leg of the 4x400-meter relay at the VHSL State Championships in Richmond in June. The Bulldog team of Hill, Tyler Holloway, Lawan Brown and Deion Dickens won the state title in 3:18.33. Oscar Smith crossed the line first but was disqualified giving King’s Fork the state championship.


King’s Fork raced to a state relay championship and Suffolk was well-represented all the way around at the VHSL State Track and Field Championships in Richmond in June.

The Bulldog team of Tyler Holloway, Joseph Hill, Lawan Brown and Deion Dickens won the 4×400-meter relay state title in 3:18.33 for the first state relay crown in school history. Oscar Smith’s relay team initially seemed to win the relay but was disqualified, and the Bulldogs moved up into first.

Lakeland’s JaQuan Demiel was second in the state in the 300-meter hurdles in 37.65. Nansemond River’s Ricky Blake was fourth in the triple jump in 47-feet-0.25.

Lakeland’s Anaquan Peterson, in the long jump, and Demiel, in the 300 hurdles, won Eastern Region titles.

King’s Fork’s Qualitra Brown, now on scholarship at Villanova, won the 400-meter dash in the Southeastern District.


Nansemond River’s baseball program reached its first Group AAA VHSL State Tournament and while the Warriors fell in a quarterfinal game at South County, the 12-11 outcome was full of unbelievable drama.

The Warriors led 9-4 before the host Stallions scored five runs in the fourth. South County brought their top pitcher, Evan Beal, out of the pen to start the NR fifth. Earlier in the day, Beal was drafted in the eighth round by the Kansas City Royals.

With South County up 10-9, the Warriors, with Ryan O’Hara in the batter’s box, were down to their last out and last strike. O’Hara nailed the 0-2 pitch over the left-centerfield fence for a two-run homer, his first home run of the season.

South County answered to two runs in the bottom of the seventh for the victory.

The Warriors finished 20-8 and with the first Southeastern District Tournament championship in school history.