Those teams — Robin Dotson’s Central girls and Patrick Damron’s Eastside boys — are in the Virginia state capital Saturday in search of VHSL championships at Virginia Commonwealth’s Siegel Center.
GOING FOR THREE IN A ROW
Central’s Lady Warriors are chasing a rare three-peat when they take on Greensville County in the VHSL Class 2 championship at 4:30 p.m.
Dotson, in his 32nd year as a head coach, is in search of his sixth championship ring. He’s guided Central to back-to-back titles and to four of the past five state crowns.
He also led J.J. Kelly to a state championship in 2002 before the school was consolidated with Pound to form Central eight years ago.
Under Dotson’s watchful eye, Central has become one of the premier girls basketball schools in the state. And during that time, he’s seen some all-star players pass through his program.
This year’s Lady Warriors don’t have a standout superstar. Instead, this season’s team comprises players who have gone through the system and developed their skills year by year to form one of the most talented groups in school history.
“Each team has been different and each team has had its own way of bonding and has been special,” Dotson said. “This team is special because of the love they have for each other. It’s a special kind of bond that’s very unique. ...
“We’ve just got a lot of kids that never give up and they’ll do what they need to do for the team and their teammates.”
One doesn’t have to look past the starting five to see what Dotson is talking about. Each starter has scored 20 points in at least one game this season.
Brook Porter leads the team in scoring with 13.5 points per game, and Dee Cvetnich is averaging a double-double with 12.8 points and 11.2 rebounds.Hannah Carter is at 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, Olivia Mullins averages 8.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists and Brittany Mullins averages 7.6 ppg.
Despite those impressive numbers, Dotson is not expecting a cakewalk against Greensville.
“They’re extremely athletic and quick and they rebound well,” he said. “We’re just going to have to play our game, be strong on defense and move the ball well.”
SHOOTING FOR NO. 1
Eastside had a dream team last season with plenty of talent, including two starters that are playing in the college ranks this season. Those Spartans did everything but win the state title, losing to Lancaster by three points in the final.
This year, despite the loss of four starters, Eastside is right back in Richmond and the state title game. Damron’s squad faces Surry County at 1 p.m. at VCU.
Damron knows his team must be ready when going up against the likes of all-state player Monte Pope, the son of Surry coach James Pope.
“They’ve got some other good players and they get after it,” Damron noted.
Eastside counters with several good players of its own, foremost team leader Ethan Powers — the lone returning starter from last year’s team. A junior, Powers enters the final averaging 20.8 points per game.
Senior Nick Livingston has stepped up his game and developed into a team leader as well. He averages 12.1 points, five rebounds and three assists per game.
The Spartans also look to seniors Chris Swann and J.R. Kilgore and junior Connor Blevins to have big games, along with junior twins Grayson and Garrett Whited.