After four state titles in the last five years, including the past two, a trip to Richmond and the state title game for the Lady Warriors is just kind of expected.
VHSL Hall of Fame coach Robin Dotson is not backing away from the high expectations. In fact, Dotson — who has won 620 career games and five state championships, including one while at J.J. Kelly — is among those who has the highest of goals for the Lady Warriors.
Central returns four starters from a team that finished 28-2 and won the state title.
“We’re looking to be right back in the mix competing for Mountain 7 and Region D honors,” Dotson said. “It’s promising to have four starters return, but we can’t get satisfied and complacent with what we have accomplished. Staying hungry will be a key for us.”
Central lost starter Gracie Mullins to graduation, but the nucleus of the team is back. Returning are starting guards Olivia Mullins (5-6, Sr.) and Brook Porter (5-2, Sr.) and post players Dee Cvetnich (6-1, Sr.) and Hannah Carter (5-10, Jr.).
The fifth starting spot is likely be filled by guard Brittany Mullins (5-4, Sr.), but post Callie Mullins (5-11, So.) also should see plenty of playing time.
Dotson has a host of players that can contribute this year, including guards Grace Thompson, Hannah McAmis, Jillian Sturgill and Hannah Large and forwards Bailey Allison and Gabby Hall.
CLOSER TO HOME
Dotson knows reaching the state finals and winning a championship is never easy. His first concern, however, is getting through the Mountain 7 District and Region 2D.
“Our district has set the standard across the state in 2A basketball over the seven seasons (of existence) with five state titles, seven consecutive seasons with a team in the (state) finals and nine teams advancing to the finals in those seasons,” Dotson said.
“This year looks to be more of the same with the Mountain 7 District having another good chance to advance a team to the state title game.”
In addition to Central, Ridgeview and Union also look to be Mountain 7 powerhouses this season. Virginia High and Lebanon of the Southwest District should make advancing from Region 2D even tougher.
Central opens the regular season at home on Dec. 3 against Twin Springs before hosting the Powell Valley National Bank Tipoff at Virginia-Wise’s Prior Center from Dec. 6-8.
BOYS LOOK TO REGROUP
The Central boys had their best basketball season last year when they made a run to the Region 2D semifinals and finished 18-8 overall.
Expectations were high this year. But then, a coach’s — and a father’s — nightmare hit the Warriors.
Isaiah McAmis, a team leader and son of coach T.J. McAmis, suffered an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament during football season.
Isaiah McAmis, a junior, passed the 1,000-point scoring plateau last season.
His absence on the hardwood — along with the loss of Dalton Mullins, another 1,000-point scorer, to graduation — could sent the Warriors into a tailspin before the season begins.
But while Coach McAmis knows losing Isaiah McAmis will be tough for the team to overcome, no one is throwing in the towel.
“We do have a lot of experience coming back,” the coach said.
Seniors Bryson Collins and Tyler Vanover have both been playing at the varsity level since their freshman year. Ben Stallard and Landon Elkins also should be key players, along with Elijah Hayes, who can play both point guard and in the post.
“We do have pieces and we’re going to be pretty good,” Coach McAmis said.
“We’ve got a solid crew and the rest of the younger guys have been working really hard.”
The Warriors open the season with two home games: against KACHEA on Nov. 30 and against Twin Springs on Dec. 3.