First Posted: 1/15/2009
Walter Grable-Assistant sports editor
RED SPRINGS - Tradition is not just another word thrown around to get fans excited about the Red Springs High School girls basketball team.
It's a word that means something, and the players and coaches take it to heart.
So even with the loss of three starters from last year's 26-3 squad, the Red Devils still expect to dominate the Tri-Six Conference, make the state playoffs and compete for a state title.
“That's what we play for every year,'' said Eva Patterson-Heath, who is entering her 20th year as coach. “Hopefully, our (new) girls understand that when they put on a Red Springs uniform, every other program is trying to beat us.''
The Red Devils are 50-0 in the Tri-Six Conference during the last four seasons and they expect that kind of success to continue.
Leading this year's team will be senior point guard Shemia Campbell, who'll be entering her fourth season as a starter, and senior center Danielle Carter, a two-year starter.
At 6-1, Carter, who averaged 14.1 points and 10.9 rebounds last season, will be the focal point in the paint, while Campbell, who averaged 10.8 points and 4.5 assists, will be the player who runs the show.
“These girls expect success,'' Patterson-Heath said. “Campbell will have the ball in her hands 75 percent of the time and she'll have to know who to pass the ball to, when to shot and control the tempo.''
Complementing the two Red Devils' seniors will be juniors Temeka McArthur and Jasmine Patterson, as well as sophomore Cassaundra Bell.
“I expect all of them to make an impact and to complement Danielle and Shemia,'' the coach said.
Another player to keep an eye out on is freshmen Kristen Oxendine, a 5-5 guard who Patterson said will get some playing time this season.
The coach said this year's team may not be as athletic, but the team will do what is had to do to contend for another conference championship.
“The X on our back is as big as its ever been,'' she said. “We're vulnerable, because we know that when teams get a win against Red Springs, they know it's a good win.''
Red Devils coach Glenn Patterson has been through this before. Three years ago, his team had just lost seven players, including all five starters, yet, the Red Devils went out and won 18 games.
This season, the program lost eight players - and yes, all five starters.
But Patterson isn't fretting.
“We'll focus on getting our fundamentals down pat,” said Patterson, who will be in his ninth year as coach. “Early on, we'll not put a lot of emphasis on wins and losses.''
Patterson has two positives on his side. One, Red Springs has good athletes. And two, the school's football team was highly successful this past season and Patterson believes the players from that program will help translate into success on the hardcourt, starting with Raheim Penn and Charles Campbell. Patterson is counting on both to have big seasons, despite their limited varsity experience playing basketball.
Two other players, Russell Guin and Phillip McArn, will also be counted on to help offset the heavy graduation loss.
“It will be a challenging year,'' Patterson said.