Small, young PE shows fight

Published 11:46 pm Friday, December 2, 2016

The young and undersized Prince Edward County High School varsity girls basketball team had opportunities to string together baskets Friday night and develop a lead, but visiting Central Lunenburg High School staged a comeback in the fourth quarter to claim a 50-49 victory.

“Missed free throws, missed layups, turnovers,” Lady Eagles Head Coach Carlton Redd said, pointing to things that plagued his team. “I respect Central a whole lot — good kids, good coaches — but we did a lot to beat ourselves. You shouldn’t help a team beat you, and that’s basically what we did.”

The loss dropped the Lady Eagles to 0-3 to start the 2016-17 season, but Redd is confident they possess the potential to improve on last year’s placement in Conference 34.

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Last season, Prince Edward, which went 11-7 in the district, claimed the fifth seed in the conference and lost in the first round of the conference tournament to Amelia County High School.

“We were a really young team last year,” Redd said. “This year, we’re still young, but last year … we did well all things considered, but there were certain teams that we just couldn’t get around — Amelia, Nottoway, Bluestone — they were the only teams that beat us twice last year.”

The Lady Eagles keep their team intact this season, with no major exodus due to graduation. The roster features 11 players in either 10th- or 11th-grade and only two seniors.

“I feel like we can make some noise,” Redd said, seeing the potential in his team to place among the top-three in the conference. “As it is right now, I can’t tell you how good my team is because of turnovers. I can guess, I can tell you what I feel in my heart, but until they stop making those turnovers, we won’t be as competitive as we can be.”

Against Central, the Lady Eagles committed 22 turnovers, missed 19 shots near the hoop and 18 free throws.

However, they also had 16 steals and 33 rebounds, out-rebounding the Lady Chargers.

“We play bigger than we are,” Redd said. “We get a lot of steals, get a lot of layups. … We get as many shots as everybody else does, we just have to fine-tune our shooting, and we’ve got to stop making unforced errors.”

Leading the way for Prince Edward this year is a group of five key players — junior guard Kadeshia Wright, sophomore point guard Da’Mya Harris, junior power forward Shauniece Beasley, junior forward Asia Wilson and senior guard Alexis Gayles.

Wright contributed 12 points and seven steals on Friday.

“Kadeshia’s a fighter,” Redd said. “Kadeshia’s been with me since she was in the eighth grade. She’s like my right hand.”

Harris led her team Friday with 13 points.

“Over three games that we’ve played, she’s had 13 in each game, and 13 sounds good, but with Da’Mya, I’m not sure what the limit (is) on what Da’Mya can do,” Redd said.

He was pleased, however, that it looks like the Lady Eagles will be able take the pressure off of Harris this year to score 20-plus points a game, as seven girls scored Friday.

“I think it was our most balanced scoring game we have ever had,” Redd said.

Beasley and Wilson scored six points apiece.

Of Beasley, Redd said, “Our team and our size puts a lot of pressure on her to go inside and battle with people bigger than her almost every week. But Shauniece doesn’t back down. … Shauniece is our rock inside.”

Redd said Wilson is no bigger than some of his guards, but she plays inside with a lot of heart.

“If I had to give a heart award, it would be to Asia,” he said. “Asia is the epitome of hustle.”

Like Wright, Gayles has been with Redd for four years.

“She is probably my best open-court defensive player,” the coach said of Gayles.

Up-and-comers on the roster include junior guard Traliyha Dabney, who scored nine points against Central, sophomore forward Madison Lehman, who scored six, and sophomore forward Tiara Miller.

The Lady Eagles (0-3) visited Bluestone High School on Tuesday, and they will visit Goochland High School on Friday with the tipoff set for 7 p.m.