Continuity could carry Lady Dukes a long way

Published 6:30 am Thursday, December 26, 2019

Cumberland County High School’s varsity girls basketball team will enter 2020 with an overall record of 5-2 so far this season and prospects of another run to the state tournament.

“I think this team could make a good run,” Lady Dukes Head Coach Omar Liggins said. “My only thing is my numbers — I’ve got nine girls.”

He noted that seven of those nine players see playing time consistently.

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“As you start getting deeper into the region and stuff like that, these teams come with 12, 15 girls, and a lot of them use all 12 or 15,” he said. “… But I do think that we can’t have off nights. If we continue to be consistent, this team could go deep.”

The 2019-20 Cumberland squad features six seniors, two juniors and one sophomore.

“As far as I know, I’m probably one of the oldest returning teams at least coming back in the district,” Liggins said. “So, it all depends on what Cumberland girls team comes to play that night.”

He referenced the 2016-17 Lady Dukes squad that earned the program’s inaugural appearance in the state tournament when he said, “I think we can make a run to the states. I’m not saying we’re as good as that team, because that team was a whole lot deeper, but this team (has) been playing together for the last three or four years, (and) hopefully that continuity can carry us a long way.”

Helping lead the way for Cumberland on offense this year is the team’s youngest player — sophomore point guard Shamoni Bartee. She scored 35 points in a road win over Central Lunenburg High School and 18 points apiece in home wins over Nottoway High School and Bluestone High School.

“If she can continue to play and get better, she’s going to be the one I have to lean on,” Liggins said.

Though she stands at only 4 feet, 10 inches tall, Bartee is remarkable due to her speed and ability to finish at the hoop.

“She qualified in states in track, she qualified in states in cross country, so her speed is just amazing, and that’s what I’m going to rely on,” Liggins said. “Our speed, if we can just run all night, we can run a lot of people out of the gym. Just with having Shamoni Bartee, our speed is just crazy.”

The coach noted another player he will also lean on for points is senior Nikki Hurt.

Additionally, senior Sade’ Gregory and junior Janaia Trent have stood out thus far with their key contributions through seven games.

Cumberland returns to action Friday, Jan. 3, at 7 p.m. against host Randolph-Henry High School.