by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
Coming off a state semifinal season, the varsity Red Devils look every bit as strong as last year’s sleeper team that came out of the region as the third seed to advance to the Group 1A boys basketball championship. Lancaster is off to a 3-1 start in the 2016-17 campaign.
“Our expectations are high but it’s an entirely new season and we just can’t assume we will have a year like the last one,” said coach Tim Rice. “Games are not won on paper. The experience of getting to the state tournament should help us in the regular season.”
Rice said his team’s first goal, as it is every season, is to finish first in the district in regular season play.
“Last year was a pleasant surprise, which made it special,” he said. “Our confidence grew as the season progressed and the ball bounced our way.”
Rice led the Devils to a 23-5 record last year and a state semifinal finish. Despite losing a region tournament semifinal game, the Devils advanced to the Group 1A tournament, where they upset Eastside and Altavista before losing by 10 to Radford in the state championship game.
He returns 10 players from last year, including returning starters junior center/forward Calvin Henderson and senior forward James Coleman. Junior forward Martez Davis, senior guard Jay Dillon and senior forward Jamil Redmond also saw plenty of playing time last season.
“We lost our two go-to guys in Rasul Henderson and Darrin Doggett and a lot of rebounding from Trevon Henderson,” said Rice. “The returners will have to step up and replace the guys we lost.”
Rice’s roster is filled with upperclassmen including seven seniors and eight juniors.
“We have experience but don’t have a lot of size,” said Rice. “Our tallest player is Jamil at 6’3″. Calvin and James will be the heart of the team.”
Rice is relying on his bench play to make or break the season and said the Devils have “the potential to be deep in the line-up. One key will be rebounding. We will have to be good defensively.”
Playing center with C. Henderson this season will be senior Dwayne Ball and junior Arik Clayton. Playing guard along with Dillon will be juniors Darius Reed, Terrin Hardin and Christian Sutton and seniors Elijah Haynes and Marcus Lee. Seeing time at both guard and forward will be junior Santese Ball and senior Jahlil Nickens.
Playing forward along with Davis, Coleman and Redmond will be junior Jammond Thompson.
The Devils have two weeks off for holiday break and will open play in the new year on January 3 at Washington & Lee.
With only one loss in two seasons, coach Jason Williams has high expectations for his JV Devils.
After going unbeaten two years ago, Lancaster lost only one game last year under Williams leadership. And his Devils have gotten off to a 2-0 start this year.
Although JV teams are typically young and inexperienced and a feeding program for varsity teams, Williams’ team includes players with lots of game experience. His starting five are all sophomores and includes returning starter TJ Frisby at guard. Guard Taeshawn Veney and forwards Javian Robinson, Jalen Forrest and BJ Lee all saw considerable playing time on last year’s JV team.
With plenty of depth, his 15-player team has a bench that includes 10 grads of Lancaster’s successful middle school program. Going in at guard will be sophomore Tahlik Redmond, eighth-grader Gerrell Moody and freshmen Gerkeil Owens and Destin Lee. Playing forward will be freshmen DeTaye’ Wilson, Jae’Quan Smith and Henry Smith and going in at center will be sophomore Richard Walters and freshman Dorian Lee.
Williams lost eight players to the varsity team.
“But we have a lot of good players coming up,” he said. “And we’re looking forward to getting into what we call the district play. That’s where we’ll see the best competition.”
Lancaster’s only loss last year came to Northumberland.
The Devils won’t play the Indians until mid-January but do begin conference play on January 6 against Colonial Beach.
- January 3 at Washington & Lee
- January 4 Charles City
- January 6 Colonial Beach
- January 9 Mathews
- January 13 Rappahannock
- January 14 Middlesex
- January 18 at Northumberland
- January 20 at Essex
- January 24 Washington & Lee
- January 27 Colonial Beach
- February 1 Northumberland
- February 3 at Rappahannock
- February 4 Christchurch
- February 7 Essex