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Is eight enough?

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SR girls basketball preview

By Mike Forster

In August, Kim Jones brought home a third child to her and Greg’s home, with the birth of bouncing baby Janell.

She joined brother Kalip and sister Jayda.

Now the question is whether the girls head coach can bring home a third straight district trophy for the Staunton River trophy case.

Don’t bet against it.

Having won the Seminole in 2008 and the Blue Ridge last season, the Lady Eagles have gotten used to the taste of victory.

Still, it won’t be easy.

The Lady Eagles lost a ton of talent from last year’s team to graduation.

The numbers are low, too.

“We’re only carrying eight players,” lamented Jones.

Fortunately, while the team lacks depth, it is rich in talent.

Discussion of this squad starts with Jodi Salyer.  

She used to be described as “pesky” or “slight.”

That was then.  Today, the junior has sprouted into a powerful 5’ 11” frame.  She’s lost none of her speed nor any of her energy.

“She’ll play everywhere,” said Jones.  Look for Salyer to play the point on offense, then shift into the paint on defense.  She’s that versatile.

Along with Brie Holdren and Kassie Hoag, River has one of the strongest backcourt trios in the area.

Holdren is a younger version of Salyer.  She’s but a sophomore, but lost her greenness last season.

Her shot looks solid in the early going, which is key to her success as a shooting guard.

Hoag, who is up from last year’s JV team, also brings a nice shot to the mix.  Like Holdren, she can also fill in at point guard when Salyer is needed elsewhere.

“I love having Brie, Kassie and Jodi on this team,” said Jones.  “It doesn’t matter who brings it up the court.”

The Lady Eagles will also have some muscle in the post.

Start with Morgan Linkous.  A three-sport jock, Linkous is shaping up as the team’s enforcer, due to her physical toughness.  

She also brings strong leadership.  As a result, she and Salyer are team captains.

Addie Tuck, a sophomore, is also a three-sport Eagle.  At 5’ 9”, she’s a shade taller than Linkous.  She’s showing the confidence that will make her strong in the paint.

Shaniesha Robinson is back for her junior year.  

Having missed all of last season for various reasons, Robinson is already knocking off the rust.

She’s also added a bit of height, now standing at 6’ 1”.  “It means a lot to have her back,” said Jones.  “It gives us some of the height we lost.”

Ashley Payne should be able to plug into a number of spots.  Only 5’ 5” and up from last year’s JV team, Payne is described by Jones as “one tough cookie.”

Look for her to mix it up wherever she plays.

Kaleshia Bryant returns to the hardwoods in this, her junior year.  

A 5’ 4” guard, Bryant has impressed Jones with her shooting, defense and hard work.

As always, River is expected to be a defensive team, first and foremost.

Because of their lack of depth, also expect the offense to run at a slower tempo.

Added Coach Jones, “We’re facing tough competition.  We have to play smart.”