Girls basketball exceeds expectations in state tournament


Courtesy of The Virginian-Pilot

John Davis, Staff Writer

For the last eight years, winning the girls basketball state championship had become routine for head coach Darnell Dozier. This year, the girls were coming off an undefeated 2020 season, the first championship run by the team without a single loss.

This year, however, snapped that eight-year streak. Losing in the state quarterfinals, the Cavs still put up an incredible season for a team that had only two upperclassmen in the starting lineup.

Sophomore Tinasia Spencer, senior Mckenna Harris, and junior Zakiya Stephenson consistently had the most minutes on the team. Dozier said Spencer, the team’s leading scorer, “came into her own this year,” and made sure to note that she’s “only a sophomore.” Other notable players to get significant minutes were sophomore Celeste Bailey and sophomore Chloe Beddingfield.

With many unfamiliar faces at the helm, the region was not intimidated by the team to start the season. Despite starting 3-0, the Cavs received a rude awakening when they faced Hampton in the fourth game of the year, losing 79-48.

“I knew they’d be really tested,” said Dozier. He claimed that the team “got [a] big head” and “thought they were the best” to start the year and this hindered the team’s ability. Losing by 31 isn’t commonplace in Dozier lead teams. This was the single most points that a Princess Anne girls team had lost by since before 2006. “They were sad,” said Dozier in regards to the team after the loss. This feeling of sadness didn’t last long, however, as the Cavs caught fire directly after this game.

“Success follows me,” said Dozier confidently. He has been coaching at PA for “too long” he claims, 28 years this season. When Dozier first joined the team as the head coach, the team had gone 2-20 the previous year.

But the basketball program has not had a losing season under Dozier’s guidance. Describing his approach to the game as “defense first, offense last,” Dozier says that he has and always will demand “nothing short of hard work.” For the last two decades, the PA girls are the single winningest team in the entire city. They are also the only public high school in the state to be nationally ranked at any point in time.

Following the loss to Hampton, the girls captured two massive statement wins over Green Run with a score of 75-21 and Bayside with a score of 80-23. The team kicked it into another gear to hold a positive point differential of 101 over just two weeks. “They came out and started playing much, much better following that loss,” said Dozier.

“We didn’t have [any] returning starters,” said Dozier. He elaborated, saying he “expected [the team] to finish almost at the bottom of the pact.” He couldn’t have been further off, as the team finished first in Beach with a record of 15-1 in the regular season. The Cavs continued to win 3 playoff games before dropping off in the first round of the state quarterfinals.

Despite ending an eight-year championship streak, Dozier keeps up consistent optimism for next year. “To start the season, we had a lot of kids who knew how to play the game but didn’t know the game,” he comments. The PA girls team is brimming with young talent, and the head coach made sure to reaffirm the following: “We’ll be back.”