New Coach Energizes PHS Girls Hoop Team
Alvita Williams Thomas was a member of some of Pinecrest's finest basketball and volleyball teams during her playing days.
Starting this week, the 1991 graduate gets a chance to try to revitalize a Patriot girls' basketball program that has had five head coaches in the last seven years. Last year's team coached by Bill Permakoff finished 1-12 in the Mid-Southeastern Conference and 5-20 overall.
The Patriots opened the season on Wednesday at home with home loss to Western Harnett. Saturday they entertain North Moore at 6 p.m. in the first round of The Pilot Cup.
Thomas starts with a squad that includes only one senior and sophomore guard Karmen Spencer as the only starter from a year ago.
"This year we're basically rebuilding the Pinecrest Lady Patriot basketball team," Thomas says. "Being a brand new coach, we did lose a couple from graduation and there were some that didn't come out because they wanted to concentrate on other sports. But, I really think by conference time, we'll have our act together."
Thomas was a member of Pinecrest's 1988 state championship volleyball team. She played on the 1991 state runner-up basketball squad that included one of her current assistant coaches, Tony Douglas Boney. Boney played on the team that came back and won the title in 1992.
During her basketball career at Fayetteville State, Thomas scored more than 1,000 points and earned Black All-American honors. She coached varsity volleyball and was an assistant varsity girls' basketball coach during a four-year stay at Union Pines before returning to her alma mater two years ago.
The Patriots' best player last year was Tanya Cain, now a member of the soccer team at N.C. State. Shaneika McRae, the team's best front court player also graduated.
In a scrimmage last week against East Montgomery, Spencer, and another sophomore, Ashleigh McKenzie, displayed an ability to score in transition when the opportunity presented itself.
Even with her relative inexperience, Spencer will be a player the new coach looks to for leadership
"Karmen has a lot of potential, and she's left-handed so that makes her extra special," Thomas says. "We can beat teams up the court on fast breaks, but we also have a lot of height. When we get them down low and in position, we can be powerful inside as well."
The other guards include junior Jemecia McNeill and sophomore Ashleigh McKenzie. Senior Ashley Mashburn, juniors Paige Horne and Candice Seagraves and sophomore Uniqwa Morrison are forwards.
The tallest player, 6-foot-1 junior Ivory Ferguson, was on crutches earlier in the week because of an injured knee. Among the others providing good size around the basket are junior Cayla Herm and sophomore Addy George, both 5-11.
A teacher of exceptional children, Thomas remarried last August and has two children. She will also be assisted by Darla Watson. Brittany Minogue, a newcomer to Pinecrest, will be the jayvee coach.
The Patriots begin Mid-Southeastern Conference play at Douglas Byrd on Dec. 12. League member Westover is the defending 4/A state champion. Scotland County, Southern Lee and Union Pines will participate in the Patriot Holiday Invitational on Dec. 22 and 23.
"As we're starting this new season, we have to have everybody come together on the same page," Thomas says. "We're still looking for that five that really meshes together."
Schedule: Nov. 19 Western Harnett; 22 North Moore (Pilot Cup); 24 TBD (Pilot) Cup; Dec. 2 at Lee; 3 at Red Springs; 5 at Union Pines; 12 at Douglas Byrd; 16 Scotland; 19 at Richmond; 22-23 Patriot Holiday Invitational; Jan. 6 Hoke; 8 at Jack Britt; 16 Seventy-First; 23 Douglas Byrd; 24 Westover; 27 at Scotland; 30 Richmond; Feb. 3 at Hoke; 6 Jack Britt; 10 at Westover; 13 at Seventy-First; 16-19 - Conference Tournament; 24 State tournament begins.
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