Lady Eagles aim for elite ‘D’

Published 11:35 am Thursday, December 13, 2018

Prince Edward County High School’s 2018-19 varsity girls basketball team returns many of the standouts that made its historic 2017-18 run possible, and the Lady Eagles’ goal is to eliminate their weaknesses on defense to foster another unprecedented run.

Last season, for the first time in its tenure as a Class 2 program, Prince Edward’s varsity girls hoops squad won the James River District regular season championship, reached the regional title game and made an appearance in the state tournament.

The Lady Eagles’ season came to a close in the Virginia High School League Class 2 state quarterfinals, where Buffalo Gap High School dealt them a 63-41 loss. They finished with a record of 22-6.

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Prince Edward is off to a 3-0 start this season, but Head Coach Carlton Redd is focused on what his team needs to work on.

“We’ve got to be a better defensive team than we were last year, and basically how we’ve done so far this year needs to be a bit better,” he said. “We’ve got to improve there. That was one thing you learn when we played Buffalo Gap, because that’s the game in our mind, that’s in our craw that we judge everything by …”

Redd and the Lady Eagles miss the services of a couple players who graduated earlier this year; guard Ka’Deshia Wright brought great defense and forward Shauneice Beasley had a strong inside presence.

Working hard in their absence, though, are sophomores DiNasia Scott and Haniyyah Johnson.

“They’ve really stepped up and tried to do their best to fill those holes that were caused by those two graduating,” Redd said. “They lead our team in rebounding. Between the two of them, I would say they get at least 75 percent of our rebounds. In that case, we’re a better rebounding team this year than we were last year. So that’s one area that we did improve in.”

The 2018-19 Lady Eagles are comprised of six seniors, four juniors and two sophomores.

Leading the team once again is outstanding point guard Da’Mya Harris, now in her senior year. Redd has been working with her to help her become even better than she already is.

“We’ve talked about her becoming a better defensive player,” he said. “… She’s really putting in her best effort to do that, but she has grown so much as a player as far as sharing the ball and looking for the open people and making good passes — so unselfish.”

She sets the tone for what Redd considers his team’s greatest strength.

“Our biggest asset is that we play as a team, and we’re constantly trying to find the open person and make good passes,” he said.

Other standouts on the team include senior forward Madison Lehman, who is strong in the paint.

“The defense has to react to her, the defense has to know she’s back there, knows what she’s doing, and she’s becoming a smarter player,” Redd said.

Though she is currently sidelined by an ankle injury, guard Ke’Mya Rux returns this year as a junior after making a big impression last season.

“She needs to embrace her talent, because I think she’s probably the most underrated player on our team — and not to us,” Redd said, alluding to the lack of attention she gets from other teams.

Establishing his focus and that of his team this season, Redd said, “We know that no matter what we do, whether we win or lose, whatever, there’s always the tournament at the end of the season, and that’s when we want to be clicking. We want to have our defense playing like we need it to, because as far as the offense goes, we can score points. That’s not our problem. Our problem is stopping other people scoring.”

Prince Edward is set to play Altavista High School on Friday at 6 p.m. in a tournament hosted by Cumberland County High School. If the Lady Eagles win, they play Saturday at 8 p.m., and if they lose, they play Saturday at 6 p.m.