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Fauquier girls basketball season preview: Croson remains optimistic

Saturday, Nov. 28 | By Fred Hodge
Alyssa Lewis is one of only four girls returning from Fauquier's 2014-15 team. --Fauquier Times Staff File Photo/Randy Litzinger
High school athletic programs often progress with baby steps.

Gary Croson, for example, enters his second year as Fauquier girls basketball coach looking to improve on a 6-16 record from last season.

Experience is at a premium with only four girls returning, so Croson’s early-season emphasis is on incorporating the small nucleus of veterans with a large influx of varsity newcomers.

“We're a young team. I understand that,” Croson said as the Falcons prepared for a Dec. 4 home game versus Park View (Sterling).

Croson said he knew his first season as coach was going to be difficult last winter, but the experience still felt daunting at times.

“It was tough for me because I'm used to winning,” he said. “I understood what I was coming into where they weren't winning at all. … That was the hard part."

Fauquier lost to James Wood by 30 points early that season.

“People were coming up to me and shaking my hand because we didn't lose by 50 or 60,” Croson said. “I understood after a while that it was an improvement to the program.

“We did win six games last year which was huge for this program,” he said, “after finding out they had won maybe four the previous three years total.”

Maintaining traction for continued improvement is not a given, however, as only four players with varsity experience returned for this winter's slate. Seniors Alissa Lewis and Kaylee Lamper, and sophomore Marissa Croson, are returning starters. Junior Marlee Ott split time between the junior varsity and varsity tiers.

Lewis is back for her fourth varsity campaign after garnering second-team all-Conference 22 honors as a junior.

“It's my last year, so I'm excited about it,” the senior said following a recent practice. “We have a really young team, but it's more positive [than] in the past. Everyone wants to be here.

“I want us to go farther than in the past [and] work together and win games,” she said. “I feel the team dynamic in general is a lot stronger. … We're trying to push team bonding. Everyone gets along so well. Everyone is being so encouraging.”

Lamper is Fauquier’s probable starting point guard.

“I definitely want to have a good year,” she said. “It's important for me to be a good floor leader.”

Gary Croson said his top concern is developing an efficient attack.

“We only scored 30 points a game last year,” he said. “We need to find points.”

Lewis averaged 12 points per game last season, while Lamper and Marissa Croson each averaged about three.

“So, we lost half of that,” he noted, but the plan is to be more effective as a unit rather than relying on one or two individuals.

Offensively, Gary Croson said there will be a heavy reliance on ball movement and screens.

“My offense is designed to use all five players,” he said, emphasizing another major need is to cut down on the 30 average turnovers the Falcons committed versus good teams last winter.

Croson said to expect Fauquier to use increased athletic ability and better depth into a defense designed to create chaos.

“We're going to put the press on. We have more speed than size,” he said. “We are going to be all over the floor. We have no choice.

“We have more athletes than we had last year,” he said. “The good thing is if we get in foul trouble we have capable sophomores and freshmen that can come in a play.

“They are very athletic. They definitely are going to help us,” Croson said. “They just need to learn the game.”

Juniors KeeKee Washington and Teddy Pollard and sophomore Holly Robinson are three girls moved up after starting on junior varsity last season. Other varsity newcomers include junior Leann Brown, sophomore Caroline Diehl and freshmen Kayla Pavlock, Kaelsey Gastley, Shaey Washington and Abby Wells.

The injury bug, however, has been a factor. Brown is out for several more weeks after a fall softball injury to her right index finger required surgery. Croson said he had penciled Brown into the starting line up due her athleticism, toughness and skills.

Pavlock and Wells also are sidelined by lower leg problems.

- - - - -

Projected starting Lineup

PG Kaylee Lamper, Sr.*
G Shaey Washington, Fr.
F Alissa Lewis Sr.*
F Marrisa Croson, Soph.*
F Kelsey Gastley, Fr.

*Returning starter

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