CHARLESTON, W.Va. — One of the youngest teams in this week’s girls state tournament hopes to use Thursday’s quarterfinal loss as a learning experience.
South Charleston lost 60-40 to Martinsburg, ending the season for a team that went 20-4 despite having no seniors on the roster.
“We have no seniors, three juniors, the rest are sophomore and freshman,” Black Eagles coach Gary Greene said.
Thursday’s starting five was made up of three freshmen, one sophomore and a junior.
“It’s been a learning curve for (the freshmen) but they’ve just picked up with what we’ve asked them to do,” Greene told MetroNews.
So how does such a green team end up the No. 4 seed in the state tournament? Freshman starter Aaliyah Dunham says it comes down to one thing.
“Teamwork, yeah, teamwork!”
It doesn’t hurt that the young members, of the team, have practically known each their entire lives. Some come from South Charleston and others from Dunbar, but they’ve been playing together since they could bounce the ball.
“Our schools were sometimes rivals but we were always friends. We played AAU together or against each other. We all kind of knew each other’s game already,” said Taliah Cashwell, a starting sophomore.
Freshman Shy’Anne Dunham is another starting freshman. She said coming from middle school, she thought she’d have to warm the bench a couple years and prove herself. But it didn’t work out that way.
“I didn’t know I was going to be a starter when I first came up here,” she said. “It just seemed to come true.”
Greene said his team is talented beyond their years but the key to success has to do with loving the game and giving it their all.
“They work hard at it, too and they all get along,” he said.
Looking ahead, Shy’Anne believes the team has a bright future.
“We’re going to get better each and every year.”