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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Eagles battle to keep focused

The toughest battle Colonial Forge’s girls basketball team has faced most nights this year has been an internal one.

With a 7–2 record and not many close games against Fredericksburg-area teams, it’s complacency the Eagles—a team with state title aspirations—don’t want to lose to.

“We know how hard we have to work, so we’re really stepping it up in practice,” said senior Kenya Holland. “We have higher goals for this year.”

Friday was another one of those nights.

With a balanced scoring effort (four players finished in double figures), the Eagles routed Riverbend, 74–27. In five games against local teams this year, Colonial Forge is 5–0, every win coming by at least 25 points.

And the Eagles, who last year became the first Stafford County girls team to make the state basketball tournament, know they’re a favorite most nights.

So that makes complacency public enemy No. 1.

“We’re going to always battle that; any team that is successful has to worry about it,” Colonial Forge coach Michelle Darley said. “But they are focused. They’re working really hard.

“They have big goals. They want to be a little better than they were last year, and for that to happen they’re going to have to work for it.”

Holland, a Princeton University recruit, helped stake Forge to a 22–6 lead against Riverbend (5–3) with 11 points—including three 3-pointers—in the first quarter.

She finished with 13 points. Nichole Collins led Forge with 15 and Jahla Osborne had 12 with a team-leading nine rebounds.

Colonial Forge had a 39–11 lead at the half, and the margin grew in both of the last two quarters.

With the Commonwealth District wins coming so easily, Darley and the Eagles have sought different ways to challenge themselves.

Colonial Forge lives with its transition defense and offense, but at times Darley will encourage her charges to slow the game down and work in the half court.

“Sometimes we’re not patient enough,” Darley said. “We play such a good transition game, but when we come up against a better team, if they can slow us down ”

That plan to tune the half-court game was a success Friday, both Darley and Holland said.

“I think today was probably the best we’ve done that,” Holland said. “We were running the offense and getting better looks.”

“We’re very good in the open court—that’s certainly our strength,” Darley added. “And even in the half court, we’re not bad. But sometimes we get caught watching. It’s something we’re just going to have to continue to work on.”

One aspect the Eagles won’t have to work on much is chemistry.

Holland said the team is closely knit this year, and they’re driven and focused on surpassing last year’s best-in-school-history results.

“I don’t think it’s very hard [to stay focused],” she said. “We’re excited every game; at least I know I am.

“Even our two freshmen have fit right in. We’ve just spent so much time together, it’s a lot of fun right now.”

Colonial Forge hosts North Stafford in a 4 p.m. game today. Lainey Harmon had 10 points and Candice Beverly grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Bears, who are at home against the Wolverines on Tuesday.

Riverbend 6 5 9 7 — 27

Colonial Forge 22 17 16 19 — 74


Riverbend (5–3): Candice Beverly 3, Carmen Beverly 3, Emily DeVilliers 0, Lainey Harmon 10, Brittany Jacobs 0, Chealsey Ross 0, Ashley Vines 3, Tiana Williams 2, Ariyanna Young 4, Seone Goode 2. Totals: 8 9-19 27

Colonial Forge (7–2): Zhane Barnes 5, Tekeyra Brown 5, Nichole Collins 15, Taylor Deskins 0, Camille Downs 8, Olivia Gather 2, Ryan Holland 0, Kenya Holland 13, Jahla Osborne 12, Bri Sullivan 10, Nia Washington 4. Totals: 30 9-13 74

Three-point goals: Riverbend 2 (L. Harmon 2). Colonial Forge 5 (Z. Barnes, N. Collins, K. Holland 3).

Justin Rice: 540/368-5045