Pack girls ready to get ball rolling

Published 8:21 am Wednesday, November 5, 2008

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
The sounds of basketball permeated throughout the Washington High School gymnasium.
Sneakers screeched across the gymnasium floor; players chattered while running through drills; the coach methodically blew a whistle and basketballs made that classic swish through the nylon on a perfect shot.
Into just the second day of practice, Washington coach Allison Jones seemed pleased with the progress her players were making. The second-year Pam Pack coach, who guided her team to a 13-13 record last year — its best mark in years, said the key early in practice was to work on the basics.
The Pack returns the bulk of its lineup from last year. The key missing ingredient is post player Samantha Smith, last year’s WDN Female Athlete of the Year who is now playing basketball at Tallahassee Community College.
Washington seems to have a wealth of talent at the guard spot. Harmony Simpkins, a junior, is currently running the show right now. Beth Batchelor, who saw court time as a freshman last year, also returns.
Also back is the talented Hayley Stowe, who is currently battling an illness that kept her from practicing Tuesday.
Meanwhile, senior Jordan Cantrell, a star player at Terra Ceia last year, transferred to Washington.
A few veterans return in the post. Senior Davey Ann Burbage, a solid scorer, rebounder and defender, will be counted on for leadership as much as points. Other key returning players are seniors Vantasia Palmer and Sharita Grice.
Juniors Maya Langley and Shonnita McIver will also get plenty of action down low.
Jones is carrying two freshman on the roster. Rachel Cantrell, a solid outside shooter and outstanding defender, came over from Terra Ceia. The freshman is the sister of Jordan Cantrell.
The other freshman on the squad is TeAmber Burke, who has skills well beyond her young years.
Stowe could only sit with a basketball and watch from the sideline on Tuesday. The junior is itching to return. Once she does, Jones believes Stowe won’t miss a beat.
Jones believes that all 11 of her players are vital to the team’s success.
The Pack tips off the season Nov. 25 at Greene Central. Washington’s first home game will be Dec. 2 against that same Greene Central squad.