Last season: 18-10, lost in state quarterfinals
Roster breakdown: 4 seniors, 2 juniors, 3 sophomores, 2 freshmen
Players to watch:
- Sophomore Caira Valentine
“If I can get Caira from thinking so much she can be awesome, but where she’s just a sophomore she just thinks too much,” said Martinsville coach Charlie Holland.
- Junior Nakieyah Hairston
“Nakieyah, she’s a tenacious rebounder, a heck of a defender, and she really moves the ball pretty well.”
- Senior Savasiah Boyd
“Savasiah Boyd is going to be a surprise,” said Martinsville coach Charlie Holland.
- Senior Destiny Harris
“Destiny Harris she shoots the ball really well. I think she had like 11 3s in six quarters against Salem,” Holland said.
- Sophomore Leighton Jamison
“She’s tenacious, she can rebound. She’s only 5’2 but she can rebound with the best of them and she can play defense on the post or a guard, she can guard the perimeter,” Holland said.
What to know:
Martinsville girls basketball coach Charlie Holland took to calling his young bench players “The Rat Pack” last season.
They learned under the Bulldogs’ strong contingent of seniors, but now “The Rat Pack” must become the leaders.
Martinsville has four seniors this season, though three are coming up from JV, meaning there’s not much varsity experience among the Bulldogs’ older players.
“The word senior and the word freshman can be mixed up sometimes because sometimes the freshman play like a senior and the seniors play like a freshman,” Holland said.” The seniors we’ve got, they’ve got some experience but not a lot of game experience because of the way the roster’s been before. But I think so far they’ve stepped up to the challenge pretty good.”
Martinsville graduated seven seniors, four who helped the Bulldogs to three straight state tournaments.
The Bulldogs do return two underclassmen who played a lot of minutes last season – junior Nakieyah Hairston and sophomore Caira Valentine. The duo are tasked with taking on more of a leadership role this season.
“I think the experience they got out of last year is they were there to relieve the pressure off of some upperclassmen. Now they’re going to have to handle the pressure and they can’t look over their shoulder and expect somebody to do it. They’ve got to go do it now,” Holland said. “They’ve got to lead the pack.”
“I feel like I have to step up and better my attitude because you would think since we’re so small and so young that we would have bad attitudes but we all seem to keep our head up,” Valentine said. “I feel like I had to step up more with taking the ball and shooting more because last year I didn’t really shoot as much.”
Here’s more of what Holland, Valentine, and seniors Destiny Harris and Savasiah Boyd had to say about the season:
Holland: “We had a scrimmage last week against Salem. We didn’t look great but we didn’t look bad. It was a great experience for us. A lot of people don’t like to scrimmage so early but it gave me a measuring stick to where we are.
“We’re going to be able to play a lot of man-to-man defense and press a lot. We don’t have a true center. Sometimes you’re going to see five guards on the floor which is going to make it fun. That ‘Rat Pack,’ they’re very interesting because they love to get up on it…I think it’s going to be some matchup problems for some of the other teams because if you can take a guard and run the post that can give them a lot of trouble.
“It’s been really fun. sometimes you get a little aggravated when they don’t get it as quick as you want them to get it but for the most part it’s been pretty fun, they’re catching on pretty good. Their IQ is getting better with time. I think as the season comes the more games they play the better we’ll be.
“I just think if we stay mentally tough we’ll be fine.”
Valentine: “I wouldn’t say we have a young team but we lost a lot of our players. A lot of us have really stepped up so it’s like multiple leaders this year.
“We’re mad fast. We’re a lot faster than we were last year and I think that’s what we have an advantage on… A lot of us can shoot on the team. It’s not just two shooters. It’s like five shooters, six shooters.”
Harris: “With me being on JV I’m used to the game being slower. Now on varsity the game is a lot faster than I was expecting it to go.
“Our team is really fast. We don’t really have many big people.”
Boyd: “I just feel like last year we hustled but I think we have shorter players. We don’t have height but we’re really fast so I feel like we can transfer that fastness this year… I feel like that’s kind of an advantage. Some teams, they’re tall but I feel like we can just slip right through.”
Martinsville girls basketball schedule (All games at 7 p.m. unless noted)
Tuesday, Dec 3 vs. Heritage
Wednesday, Dec 4 at Reidsville (N.C.) (6:30 p.m.)
Thursday, Dec 12 at Morehead (N.C.) (6:30 p.m.)
Friday, Dec 13 vs. Dan River
Tuesday, Dec 17 vs. Patrick County
Wednesday, Dec 18 vs. Morehead (6:30 p.m.)
Thursday, Dec 19 at Chatham
Friday, Dec 20 at Tunstall
Thursday, Dec 26 – Friday Dec. 27 vs. TBA (at Morehead Christmas Tournament) (Times TBD)
Friday, Jan 3 vs. Halifax County
Saturday, Jan 4 vs. Magna Vista (2:30 p.m.)
Wednesday, Jan 8 at Heritage
Tuesday, Jan 14 at G.W.-Danville
Thursday, Jan 16 at Dan River
Friday, Jan 17 at Bassett
Tuesday, Jan 21 at Patrick County
Friday, Jan 24 vs. Tunstall
Tuesday, Jan 28 at Halifax County
Saturday, Feb 1 at Magna Vista (2:30 p.m.)
Friday, Feb 7 vs. G.W.-Danville
Tuesday, Feb 11 vs. Bassett