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 Bears only lost one senior in Kara Mullins. Head coach Kory Bostic also has access to his rising freshman junior varsity team who won the JV championship this year.

“We’re really excited,” Bostic said. “We have a good mix of experienced veterans coming back with some new girls. We’re trying to figure out how to mix them together. It’s going to be a process this summer.”

On Wednesday evening, the Lady Bears fell to Letcher Central, Ky 60-54. Just to give credit to the strength of what this team can accomplish, Union went into the fourth period down 48-25.

“In the fourth quarter, I felt like we played up to par of what we are capable of. I found a group that meshed well together. They were able to create some turnovers and press and get us back into the game.”

On Thursday, they were able to handle the Eastside Lady Spartans handily.

Bostic gave plenty of playing time to the JV champions during both games.

“Brooke Bailey brought a ton of energy to the fourth period (against Letcher Central). We have a lot of young players coming up. They are really competing and looking for playing time. Hopefully by the end of the summer and into November, we can start placing things together,” Bostic said.

Union returns five seniors in Jayda Smith, Emili Brooks, Jaylan Webb, Heather Lipps and Autumn Varner.

‘This is the most seniors we have had in awhile. That group has been together since JV and essentially came to varsity at the same time. I think they are ready to make that next jump and have the big season,” Bostic said.