The Thomas Dale Lady Knights have something left to prove.
Last year, there were many accomplishments. They won the Times-Dispatch Invitational Tournament (TDIT), brought home the first girls’ basketball district title in school history and advanced well into the playoffs, falling just short of a regional championship against Cosby and falling in the opening round of the state tournament to Princess Anne, a Virginia Beach, Va., school.
The prevailing thought is that this year they can go farther. With a deep roster led by future Duke Blue Devil Ka’lia Johnson, head coach Kevin Coffey is poised to lead his girls to achieve bigger and better goals this year.
“We’re going to experience some challenges this year,” said Coffey. “We are still trying to get at that level of playing together and to play at that competitive level.”
Early in the season, Johnson and the Knights seem ready to absorb any challenge that comes at them.
“We’re going to work hard and take everything one game at a time,” said Johnson. “We can’t get intimidated by the name on the front of anyone’s jersey.”
That lack of intimidation has led to a 5-0 start, including a 50-point victory over Hopewell to open the season and, most recently, a 65-32 victory over Petersburg.
The Lady Knights will have James River to open the TDIT, and will look to repeat. Last year, they defeated Highland Springs and Mills Godwin by double-digits, and then defeated Midlothian to win the hardware, 52-46.
“We have a week to prepare for James River,” said Coffey. “We just have to focus on getting better every day and taking care of the little things.”
And it appears the Lady Knights are on track to achieve those bigger and better goals.
The Thomas Dale boys’ basketball team’s season will be more of an uphill battle, and there is perhaps no better coach for the job during a rebuilding season than Eddie Goss, who is in his 41st season of coaching and his 23rd season at Thomas Dale. There will be much learning to do, as three players from JV last year start this year, and just two seniors on Goss’ roster, Jordan Smith and Myles Turner, the team’s starting point guard, get significant playing time. Turner averaged eight points per game last year, playing through a stress fracture, and will need to contribute stats and leadership to the team this year.
“We just have to stress hard work and team work as seniors,” said Turner. “We’ll gain experience through practice and listening to coach.”
The team lost four key members of the squad that last year advanced to states, winning 22 games and losing a close game with Norcom, of Portsmouth, Va., 53-55. Malcolm King and Airek Green graduated, and Rodney Williams and Andrew White transferred to private schools.
In last year’s TDIT, Dale took two of the three games they played in, dropping a first-round game to Highland Springs, and defeating Varina and rival L.C. Bird on successive days. This year, they will open the tournament with Cosby, who features one of the most intriguing college prospects in the region in 6-foot-11-inch, 250-pound center Matt Gorski.
“Cosby is a huge team,” said Goss. “They also have a really good point guard. We’re going to have to compensate for the lack of size and experience on the court in order to win.”
Cosby also returns four starters from the team that Dale dispatched last year in the regionals.
Thomas Dale started the season with a 15-point win over Matoaca, but has since dropped three straight, including a heartbreaking district loss to Dinwiddie, 63-64. Most recently, Dale faced Petersburg, who is again expected to win the district title, and dropped the game 53-78.
2010 Game Schedule
Friday, December 17, 2010
Henrico High School
Game 1 - 6:00 pm Henrico Girls vs Hermitage Girls
Game 2 - 7:30 pm Henrico Boys vs Hermitage Boys
Steward High School
Game 3 - 6:00 pm J R Tucker Girls vs Varina Girls
Game 4 - 7:30 pm Steward Boys vs Patrick Henry Boys
L.C. Bird High School
Game 5 - 6:00 pm Huguenot * Girls vs Meadowbrook Girls
Game 6 - 7:30 pm L C Bird * Boys vs Highland Springs Boys
Thomas Dale High School
Game 7 - 6:00 pm Thomas Dale Girls vs James River Girls
Game 8 - 7:30 pm Thomas Dale Boys vs Cosby Boys
Saturday, December 18, 2010 Glen Allen High School
Game 9 – 3:00 pm Girls game 1 loser vs Girls game 3 loser
Game 10 - 4:30 pm Boys game 2 loser vs Boys game 4 loser
Game 11 - 6:00 pm Girls game 1 winner vs Girls game 3 winner
Game 12 -7:30 pm Boys game 2 winner vs Boys game 4 winner
Saturday, December 18, 2010 Clover Hill High School
Game 13 - 3:00 pm Girls game 5 loser vs Girls game 7 loser
Game 14 - 4:30 pm Boys game 6 loser vs Boys game 8 loser
Game 15 - 6:00 pm Girls game 5 winner vs Girls game 7 winner
Game 16 - 7:30 pm Boys game 6 winner vs Boys game 8 winner
Monday, December 20, 2010 VCU Siegel Center
Game 17 - 9:00 am Girls game 9 loser vs Girls game 13 loser
Game 18 - 10:30 am Girls game 9 winner vs Girls game 13 winner
Game 19 - Noon Boys game 10 loser vs Boys game 14 loser
Game 20 - 1:30 pm Boys game 10 winner vs Boys game 14 winner
Game 21 - 3:30 pm Girls game 11 loser vs Girls game 15 loser
Game 22 - 5:00 pm Boys game 12 loser vs Boys game 16 loser
Game 23 - 6:30 pm Girls game 11 winner vs Girls game 15 winner
Game 24 - 8:30 pm Boys game 12 winner vs Boys game 16 winner