Typically when a high school team loses five seniors, the forecast may be a bumpy one for that following season. After all, it’s a part of the high school four year cycle. For the Meadowbrook girl’s basketball team, a team that finished last season with a 21-5 record, but after losing five key contributors, it appeared to be a ‘rebuilding’ year for the Lady Monarchs. Junior guard/forward Ashley Pegram is there to help that maturation process along for the team.
“She’s my most consistent performer on the floor,” said head coach Danny Connor. “She’s our catalyst, she really gets things going and other players follow her suit.”
Pegram has come out swinging on the court this year, averaging nearly 17 points and eight rebounds to go with two steals and two blocks per game, rounding things out nicely on both sides of the floor. All of those figures lead the team in each respective category. The student can only be so good without the teacher, as Pegram credits Coach Connor with helping her to mature as a person and as a player.
“Coach is so easy to talk to and very calming,” said Pegram. “Sometimes I have a tendency to get frustrated when things aren’t going well, but he’s helped me in a big way with that.”
Even proud mother Pamela Pegram agrees.
“Ashley has improved and matured a lot over the past couple years,” she stated. “Ashley is a great kid, she’s talented, she listens and she loves God.”
Historically, Pegram has always been a contributor, getting significant minutes as a freshman, and basically settling into a ‘sixth-man’ type role last season, also starting some games. This year, she’s carrying a bigger load and a starter and more often, the star of the show.
Also helping her with on-the-court skills were the host of seniors that Connor saw play college basketball off last year’s roster, just his third year in the program. Torie Cunningham (Norfolk State), Briana Arrington (St. Augustine), Sydney Howard (Virginia Union) and Katrina and Kiara Marks (Christopher Newport) all graduated last year and play on the college level. Usually, losing that much experience can be too big a deficit to overcome, but they have started off with a 4-5 record despite the large scale roster turnover. That record does include a perfect 2-0 start in the Central District. Pegram has been a big part of this success.
“Ashley has been starting to step things up this season,” said Connor. “She’s improving on being more vocal and taking the reins on the floor.”
Along with Pegram, Meadowbrook gets solid contributions from Anastasia Daniels, Shamika Finch and Jourdyn Friend. Also a key contributor this season is returning junior guard Brittany Nicholson.
While contributing on the court, Ashley has big aspirations to attend either Tennessee or UNC and works hard in the classroom, sporting a 3.5 GPA. Constant improvement on the floor and in the classroom have definitely been a trend of the Lady Monarchs the past few seasons.
With a schedule laden with home games coming up, and a relatively wide-open Central District this season, as both top teams Thomas Dale and Meadowbrook lost a lot of personnel respectively. That type of steady improvement will be needed as teams start to see where they are for the season, and start to form visions of where they could be come playoff time.
“We want to get to regionals again,” said Pegram. “We lost last year to Cosby and we want to get further than that this season.”
Meadowbrook will continue to work towards their goal with a game at Prince George this evening at 7:15 p.m. and an upcoming game at Colonial Heights on January 10.