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Prep Girls Basketball Preview: Dynamic duo key to Knights

SPOTSYLVANIA EXPECTS BIG SEASON

WITH CARTER AND SIMMONS BACK

BY TAFT COGHILL JR.

THE FREE LANCE–STAR

A sense of excitement was beginning to build for the Spotsylvania High School girls basketball team before the 2011–12 season.

The Knights were coming off an appearance in the Region I, Division 4 semifinals.

    WINTER PREVIEWS

    This week, The Free Lance–Star is previewing the winter high school sports season. Here is the schedule:

    Tuesday: Gymnastics

    Wednesday: Swimming

    Thursday: Track and field

    Friday: Wrestling

    TODAY: Girls basketball

    Sunday: Boys basketball

Standout 5-foot-11 forward Bria Carter was entering her junior season after earning first-team all-region honors as a sophomore.

And middle school sensation Kortni Simmons was joining the Knights as a freshman.

Head coach Warren Tyler saw the results early on when Carter and Simmons combined for 58 points in a scrimmage. The duo had scored 32 at halftime of Spotsylvania’s season opener against Fredericksburg Christian School.

But on the first possession of the second half, the Knights’ dream season derailed in a hurry.

Carter went down with a torn ACL and missed the rest of the season as the Knights finished with an overall record of 3–18.

“It was tough because coming in as a freshman I was going to rely on Bria,” said Simmons, who averaged 22.5 points per game last year. “That’s really what I was thinking. But when Bria got hurt, it was really sad.”

The Knights’ hopes have been revitalized this year.

Carter is healthy. And Simmons, a 5-foot-8 combination guard, is hoping lessons learned from carrying the team as a freshman help Spotsylvania this season.

So far, it has looked that way for the Knights (2–0).

Carter and Simmons combined for 38 points and 26 rebounds in a 53–41 win over Fluvanna on Tuesday. They scored 42 points and grabbed 19 boards in a season-opening 63–20 victory over Louisa the previous night.

“It’s a great feeling right now,” Tyler said of having both on the court together. “They can run the point, handle the ball, run the offense and rebound. I just throw the ball out there and let those two run things, which is good. It’s something different.”

Carter said she was so nervous before the Louisa game that she constantly prayed that her right knee would hold up. She plans to wear a brace on the knee the entire season.

She signed a national letter of intent with Division I Appalachian State last month, and said she doesn’t want to do anything to risk her college future.

“It was a beautiful feeling,” Carter said of playing against Louisa. “I love basketball so much. And just to be on the court to score and to jump and do everything I couldn’t do last year, it’s a blessing.”

Carter resumed basketball activities six months after her injury. When Simmons wasn’t with the Fairfax Stars AAU team, she and Carter played together at American Family Fitness.

When Carter was ready to rehabilitate her knee, she broke off from Simmons to strengthen it. Carter said protecting her knee is in the forefront of her mind, but she doesn’t want it to limit her ability to play care-free.

“I try to go hard 110 percent, but at the same time I’m cautious about my knee, so I don’t want to go too far,” she said. “But I still give it my best and play to my full potential. The brace keeps me assured that my knee is fine.”

If it remains that way and Simmons continues to develop, the Knights feel they’re capable of competing for the top spot in the Battlefield District. That could be tough with defending champion Courtland (30–1 last season) returning four starters.

However, the Knights will go into most games with potentially the best two players on the floor. Tyler said his early-season mission is to find other players to complement the duo.

“I’m filtering through pieces now trying to find a few more to go with these two,” Tyler said. “But I feel like if we work hard and keep our focus on where we want to be and stop settling for being close, we have a good chance. I think we have a real good chance.”

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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