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Fauquier girls basketball returns with experience after 3-17 season

Friday, Nov. 30 | By Fred Hodge
Samie Cooper is one of Fauquier's nine returning varsity letterwinners. --Times-Democrat Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Experience and athleticism are two keys to high school sports success.

Unfortunately, both have been in short supply in recent seasons for the Fauquier Falcon girls basketball program ― and led to frustrating results.

Last winter was an appropriate example, as Fauquier finished with a 3-17 record under first-year head coach George Jolley.

Jolley inherited a squad with limited experience, so teams often successfully pressed the Falcons into as many as 35 to 40 turnovers per outing. That made it hard to win as the repeated miscues led to easy baskets by the opposition.

After three weeks of practice this year, Jolley believes many of those problems are in the past.

Nine girls with previous varsity experience are on the varsity squad, an important factor.

"That alone will make us better," Jolley said late last week.

"There's a bigger core that knows what is expected," he added, emphasizing the positive aspect of increased off-season participation.

"This year, we averaged eight girls two times a week. Before, the kids didn't see each other before the [next] season. Now, the freshmen are just as ready because they worked out this summer," Jolley said.

Samie Cooper, Ashly Cooper, Katie Manson, Rebeka Embrey, Tiffany Newman, Ashley Newman, Sierra Kroencke and Megan Diehl are the varsity returnees. Senior Hailey Miller returns following a one-year hiatus.
Diamond Robinson, Greta Hayden-Pless, Juliette Ryland, Elizabeth Wilcox, Angel Robinson and Alissa Gibson are the newcomers.

This edition is the largest Falcon squad in years, leaving the team with depth, which will help with foul problems and injuries.

Jolley says the current group is much quicker overall, which figures to help the team play better defense.

"I'm going to hang my hat on being a good defensive team," the coach said. "We have some good shooters, so good defense, less turnovers and good shot selection will help us."

Fauquier placed fifth (and last) in the Evergreen District last winter, but the league landscape has undergone a radical change.

Liberty, the district's counterpart of an 800-pound gorilla the past few years, has lost all five starters from last winter's state runnerup team.

The increased parity plays into Jolley's increased optimism.

"We want to win the district, but we'll be satisfied with the middle of the pack," Jolley said.

Fauquier opened its season at home Tuesday versus Culpeper and travels to Eastern View Friday, Handley next Monday and King George Dec. 8.

The junior varsity program also opens play this week. Katie Crofford, Victoria Kroencke, Natalie Bennett, Leah Cate, Kellie Seeley, Amber Brown, Da Shai Washington, Kailey Morris, Kaylee Lamper, Kristina Price and Marrissa Smith compose the team.
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