Raiders ready to tip off

Published 11:51 am Wednesday, November 8, 2023

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PCA Athletics

The 2023 – 24 Pungo Christian Academy basketball season starts Friday as they travel to Henderson for their season opener against Crossroads Christian School.

The Lady Raiders are coming off their third consecutive Tar Heel Independent Conference regular season and tournament championship. PCA returns five players from last year’s roster, led by TIC tournament MVP Ginny Grace Pugh. She is joined by fellow seniors Alden Taylor, Katie Baxter, Reagan Walker and Kaitlyn Williamson. Allison Sawyer is the only returning junior while classmates Julia Rouse and Sayla Brown join her on the varsity squad this season.

Expect Pugh and Rouse to take over lead guard duties with the departure of Abbey Cutler and for Sawyer and Taylor to take over the forward spots with the departure of Reagan Stoop and Ashley Williford. All eight girls will need to contribute as over 50% of the teams scoring graduated from last year. The Lady Raiders will face a tough conference schedule as Northeast, Ridgecroft, Lawrence and Albemarle all project to have talented rosters this season. Kelly Rouse is in her third year as head coach with an overall record of 41 – 11 to start her career.

 The boys are coming off an 18 – 9 season and a trip to the state quarterfinals for the first time since 1980. PCA returns eight players, including seven seniors, led by the backcourt duo of Maddox Lee and Quay Artis.

Fellow seniors Drew Van Staalduinen, Austin Garrish, Braden Armstrong, Brandon Tooley and Bo Spencer also return.

Evan Woolard is the only returning junior while Luke Ross and Luke Rouse join him on the team. Michael Cripe will be the lone sophomore on the 11- man roster.

Guards Artis and Lee combined to score nearly 35 points per game last year while the frontcourt tandem of Van Staalduinen and Garrish each averaged a double-double. Expect Spencer to take on a bigger role at small forward, filling in for Davis Lee who graduated last year.

The Raiders return over 80% of the teams scoring and rebounding from last year and have the experience to make a run late in the year. The Raiders are coached by Logan Van Staalduinen who will be entering his fourth season as head coach with an overall record of 39 – 29.

Highlights of the Raiders non-conference schedule include trips to Crossroads, Arendell Parrott and Rocky Mount Academy while they host John Paul II, Oakwood and Epiphany school.