Lady Patriots led by strong freshman class

December 1, 2015

By CARA COOPER Bulletin Sports Writer

The Patrick Henry Community College women’s basketball team picked up their first win last Monday in a region game against Wake Tech. But even starting out 1-0 in the conference, Patriots head coach Brian Henderson said there’s still a long way to go for his team.

“Right now I say we’re at the end of the line and that’s just because we always say we can get better. Even if we were the No. 1 team right now I would always say that we can always get better,” Henderson said. “Right now we’re 1-0 in the conference but that definitely can go to 1-1 or 1-2 if we don’t bring it every night.”

The Patriots, 1-2 on the season so far, have only one returning sophomore from last year, Bassett graduate Kim Martin. The rest are incoming freshmen, including former Patrick County standout Ebony Reynolds, a trio from G.W.-Danville, LaPrecious England, Lexi Dabney, and Kedra Bradley, and two international players from Australia and Germany.

The youth movement will be a bit of a weakness for the Patriots, Henderson said, especially early on. But he said he can already see signs of how good his team can be.

“I feel like we started the season off and we had some growing pains as many teams with a lot of freshmen have, but recently we played our last game on Monday and we won 83-54 and it showed me signs of what this team is capable of,” Henderson said.

Reynolds, who currently leads the Patriots averaging 17 points per game, switched to the guard position this season after playing in the post all through high school. She said that switch has been the biggest transition for her.

“All through high school I was always the biggest girl but here I’m more average size so I had to change positions and I have to learn to handle more and play as a guard,” Reynolds said.

Knowing the three players from Danville has helped Reynolds’ transition to the college game easier, she said. She knew them from years of playing against the Eagles in high school.

“We played against each other and I used to watch them so we all knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses and that really helps us on the court,” she said. “Our inside is going to be really hard to stop but we also have a lot of really quick people so we’re going to be really strong on the defensive end too.”

Olivia Simpson, from Australia, can also see a big difference from the style of play she’s used to.

“There’s definitely a difference especially from coming from overseas. The biggest difference I’ve noticed is just the athleticism and the quickness. Everyone is a lot stronger and faster in college,” Simpson said.

Overcoming that learning curve of adapting to the college game is something that Henderson said will be the team’s biggest challenge.

With Martin returning to the post for the Patriots, Henderson said that experience will be very helpful for his team. He said not to sleep on his young guards though, who all have the potential to be high scoring threats.

“Our guards are very dangerous. They can definitely score the ball. But I think with Kim already being a sophomore that helps out in the post whereas none of our guards have played in college yet so that’s just the learning curve that they’re going to have to go through right now. But they are potentially very dangerous, they can score the ball, they are scrappy in the defensive end. We’re just waiting for them all to really get it and that’s the thing.”

One of the things Henderson said one thing that most impresses him is what his team has shown him off the court.

“I feel very, very strongly with this team academically. Every progress report I’ve seen shows these ladies definitely have talent in the classroom also,” he said. “Playing basketball at Virginia State took me so many places so that’s why I try to make sure we are here for athletics but the academics too… It’s bigger than basketball.”

The Patriots are off to a bit of a late start, partly because Henderson said he didn’t schedule as many games in November as in years past. That will make for a busy couple of months for the Patriots, who will play five games in December before Christmas break, and come back in the new year with nine games in January.

“January, every day we’ve got to turn around and be ready to play, and that’s how we want it,” Henderson said. “At the end of the day, to win a conference tournament you’ve got to win three games in a row so we do have some back-to-back games so we can see and get prepared for what’s going to happen to us in March.”

Building towards a strong January and beyond is Henderson’s biggest goal.

“We always say the next game is always bigger than this game because we’re always building towards the future that is our motto. And that future is going to be that region tournament,” Henderson said. “I believe our entire roster their ceiling is very, very high and hopefully I can help push them to get there.”

Filed under: Women's Basketball