BIG STONE GAP — Girl’s basketball is serious business in our corner of Southwest Virginia. Since the local school consolidations, the 2A state championship has not left the area as the Lady Warriors won in 2014 and ’15 and three-peated in ’17, ’18 and ’19. And in 2016 when they didn’t win? Ridgeview defeated Union for the championship.

The teams finish up at the end of February or beginning of March and usually take off a month or so before it is right back to the roundball grind or playing other spring sports. It’s no surprise that camps start at the beginning of June and go right through the summer.

One of the biggest camps around is the SWVA team camp. This year, 31 varsity and junior varsity team met up at five different local schools to scrimmage.

Everyone is looking at the superchampion, Lady Warriors. When interviewed at the beginning of the 2018-2019 season, VHSL Hall of Fame head coach Robin Dotson agreed that on paper, they are the team to beat until someone is actually able to usurp the throne.

The Lady Wolfpack wants to be that team.

There are some question marks after losing three strong senior starters in Bailey Frazier, Nikole Counts and Amber Taylor.

“We have three kids who graduated and left big holes,” Ridgeview head coach Donnie Frazier said. “But I told them last year, ‘if you aren’t happy with your role, work to get to the role you want to be in.’ Every one of those kids is doing that.”

The Lady Wolfpack played two scrimmages on Thursday defeating 1A powers Eastside and George Wythe by margins of 24 and 20 points.

Rising senior Hannah Dotson is still a huge threat on the outside, sinking four threes. Brooke Frazier is taking on point guard duties for the second year in a row as a sophomore. Future senior Shae Sutherland provides athleticism on both sides of the ball. Rising sophomore Hailey Sutherland is on the post and provides height under the basket.

“Shae Sutherland is playing really good right now, stepping up and being a leader. But the emergence of Hailey Sutherland on offense and defense…you can tell the weight room and all the extra practice has paid off for her. She’s going to be hard to deal with down the line.

“But all of our kids are playing hard and they are playing together. Coming into the summer and losing whom we lost, I wasn’t sure where we stood. But this team has not taken a step back. They are pushing forward.”

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