Rotary Invitational helps teams kick rust off as hoops season begins

Jimmy LaRoue
Contact Reporterjlarouejr@vagazette.com

If Jamestown’s loss to Cape Henry Collegiate to start the Rotary Invitational Basketball Jamboree Friday is any indication, the Eagles are primed for another state championship appearance.

Donovan Bridgeforth, in his third year coaching Jamestown, was not pleased with his team’s performance in the 62-43 loss to Cape Henry.

But last year, his team lost to the Dolphins in a similar way, and the Eagles went on to a 26-3 record and an appearance in the Group 4A state championship game.

“It helps us get better, and it helps them want to listen more after practice,” Bridgeforth said after the opening game loss, laughing.

In Bridgeforth’s first season as the Eagles’ coach, they got to the Group 4A East Region tournament before getting to the state championship in season two. Even though he’s going to be counting on different players, Bridgeforth believes Jamestown can make a return state championship appearance.

“Tradition is never going to stop,” Bridgeforth said. “I think it’s going to take a little longer for us to click, of course. Last year’s group had tremendous chemistry because they had been together so long, but this year’s group is down the same path.”

He expects junior guard Jarantez Garrett to be a team leader and key scorer. Garrett had a team-high 14 points in the loss to Cape Henry. Brandon Harmon, who had 13 points, is another who should provide key contributions, as should Chase Dively.

The Eagles lost twins Evan and Mason Wang to graduation. They combined to average 34 points per game last season, but Bridgeforth says the Eagles are young and will get better as the season goes forward.

“I think every year, I don’t know how, but there’s always a chip on our shoulders,” Bridgeforth said. “Last year was, ‘Nah, they really can’t get there,’ and this year, it’s, ‘Awww, all those guys are gone.’”

At Williamsburg Christian Academy, new coach Kenya Williams inherits a strong squad that won the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III state championship last season, including senior guard Cle’von Greene, who recently signed to play college basketball at Radford University.

Guards Da’Shawn and Ra’Shawn Cook, shooting guard Malachi Banks, along with the inside presence of Dexter Ratcliffe and Javon Noray, will be key for Williams along with Greene.

WCA beat Denbigh 46-34 in the jamboree opener.

“We started off the day a little sluggish because everyone’s coming off a big Thanksgiving, but overall, we played solid,” Williams said. “It wasn’t great but we played a good, competitive team.”

Williams believes the team is headed in the right direction and has goals of winning a Metro Conference and state championship.

“They’re all hungry,” Williams said. “They’re all looking to continue the success that they had last year, but most importantly, we’re looking to develop young men on and off the court. I feel like we’re heading in the right direction.”

Saturday’s schedule at Williamsburg Christian Academy’s basketball jamboree features girls’ play, with the following games scheduled:

  • 10 a.m. — Bethel vs. Surry Co.
  • 11 a.m. — Jamestown vs. Norfolk Christian
  • 12 p.m. — Lafayette vs. Surry Co.
  • 1 p.m. — Norfolk Christian vs. Denbigh
  • 2 p.m. — Lafayette vs. Bethel
  • 3 p.m. — Jamestown vs. Denbigh

Admission to the games is $5.

LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342, by email at jlarouejr@vagazette.com or on Twitter @jlaroue.

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