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Dorchester Academy High School
St. George

Dorchester Academy girls set to defend state title

 

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

St. George – While she may try not to talk much about it, Dorchester Academy girls basketball coach Callie McClure knows full well the challenge she faces in replacing the best player from last year’s Class A state championship team.

Virtually the entire starting lineup from the championship team returns this season. The missing piece is Julia Smoak, who was the Class A player of the year in SCISA and averaged a double-double in points and rebounds.

Smoak has graduated, leaving McClure with an experienced team but one lacking a star force.

“She was definitely our leader, everyone knows that,” McClure said. “Losing her from the team is losing more than just a good player. She was a leader and she was an outstanding player.”

McClure returns four starters, however. Junior Elizabeth Huff is a 6-1 post player and a force down low. Junior Savanna Shelton returns as a guard but is also working at forward. Sophomore guards Lydia Hofstetter and Savanna Varn have plenty of experience as well.

“Without Julia, we’re kind of trying to figure out where every player fits best, which means we’re moving some pieces around and experimenting with the lineup,” McClure said. “I definitely feel like we have a good team. This group knows what it takes to win and they have a strong desire to win. We just need a little time to put it all together. We’ll be good when its important to be good.”

The early progress has been slowed a little due to an ankle injury to Varn. Senior Morgan Parker has moved into a starting role in her place.

 Two other seniors – Peyton Weathers and Ashlynn Nelson – are coming off the bench as guards. Freshman Grace Judy and eighth-grader Vivian Weathers also see considerable playing time. Weathers is running the point and showing great potential.

The Raiders have opened the season with a 2-3 record against a competitive schedule. They opened region play with a win over Patrick Henry on December 8th.

McClure says Hofstetter is off to a slow start offensively but broke out for 17 points in the region opener.

“Lydia is a player I feel has great potential and it was good to see her score against Patrick Henry,” McClure said. “She is a good player. They’re all good players. This is a good group and they work hard. We’re just working some things out early. We’re learning to play together and without Julia. It takes some time to find the chemistry but we’re progressing. I’m not too concerned with the record right now. We’re playing a lot of bigger schools and it’s making us better prepared for our region. That’s what we’re focusing on.”

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