Bland County varsity girls

The 2018-19 BC Bears varsity girls basketball team includes front row from left: Sydnee Moses, Emily Ratliff. Back row from left: Katelyn Hall, Cheyenne Holston, Randi Dillow, Kayla Mutter, Sydnie Stowers, Victoria Irwin, Mary Walker, Emma Townley, Emma Rasnake. (Not pictured: Adriauna Strock).

Graduation cleaned the storehouse for Bland County’s Bears and coach Jason Lambert enters his 13th season at the helm looking for luck and not that of the bad variety. His link to success this season may well ride on the backs of only three returning players that have varsity experience.

Lambert entered the season that began this past Monday at home versus Narrows with a roster of 12 players, eight of the 12 being sophomores and freshmen. The top returnees are seniors Emily Ratliff and Sydnee Moses.

Ratliff, with a team-best 31 treys, averaged 10.1 points and three rebounds per game as a junior while Moses scored five points a game and grabbed five rebounds. Ratliff was also named first team All-MED and received the player of the year award given by the Bland County Messenger.

Junior Sydnie Stowers also returns and is joined on the roster by fellow junior transfer Adriauna Strock, sophomores Emma Townley, Kayla Mutter, Victoria Irwin, Emma Rasnake, and Mary Walker, and freshmen Kaitlin Hall, Cheyenne Holston, and Randi Dillow. Strock just recently enrolled at Bland County while most of the others are up from JV. Irwin saw her JV season end early due to injury while Dillow played middle school in 2017 but not JV.

“Improving every day is our first goal of the year,” Lambert said. “With the lack of varsity experience, we’ve had to work on the speed, aggressiveness, and fundamentals that you must have at this level. They’ve worked hard and I can see improvements.”

Lambert must also replace six players lost to graduation that were all very instrumental to his team over the past few years. Gone are post players Sydney Walker and Emma Pennington as well as guards Macey Scott and Emily Parnell and forwards Lauren Gwyn and Judy Sparks.

“That’s where our lack of experience comes in,” Lambert said. “This year’s team will be very young. None of the sophomores or freshmen has played with those that are coming back.”

Lambert noted that Ratliff, Moses, and Stowers will be in his starting lineup and that he would mix and match the remaining players to find a suitable combination.

“With the speed we have, we will play a lot of pressure man to man defense which hopefully will fuel us in transition,” he said. “Experience is certainly a concern but the dedication that some of them have shown during the offseason has me excited to see where they can go. I’m sure there will be nights we will struggle but there will also be nights where their improvements shine through.”

Lambert believes that Galax and George Wythe will be the class of the MED as both return an excellent core of players.

“They are two of the top teams in Group A with both returning a big portion of their squads,” he noted. “Both have tournament experience and will be expected to compete at state level this year. The other teams in the district return more experience compared to us but I hope we grow up quickly and are able to compete.”

The Bears have a 22-game schedule this season with Honaker and Marion added to the slate. Bland County will once again compete in the Narrows Christmas Tournament before facing its first MED encounter on Dec. 18 opposite Rural Retreat on the road. Eight of the first 11 games will be played away from home.

2018-19 BC Bears girls’ basketball

Date Opponent H/A

Nov. 26 Narrows Home

Dec. 3 Honaker Home

Dec. 5 E. Montgomery Away

Dec. 6 Marion Home

Dec. 11 Narrows Away

Dec. 13 Tournament Narrows

Dec. 15 Tournament Narrows

Dec. 18 Rural Retreat Away

Dec. 19 Chilhowie Away

Dec. 21 Auburn Away

Jan. 2 Galax Away

Jan. 4 George Wythe Home

Jan. 7 E. Montgomery Home

Jan. 8 Grayson County Away

Jan. 11 Fort Chiswell Home

Jan. 16 Rural Retreat Home

Jan. 18 Fort Chiswell Away

Jan. 21 Chilhowie Home

Jan. 22 Auburn Home

Jan. 25 Galax Home

Jan. 29 George Wythe Away

Feb. 1 Grayson County Home

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