The River View girls basketball team made the state tournament last year for the second time in school history.
Now the Raiders feel they can invade the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center for the second year in a row.
“We lost a couple good seniors from last year and we only have 10 girls out, but we think we are pretty talented,” veteran River View head coach Gehrig Justice said.
Trista Lester led the Raiders in scoring last year, earning first team all-state honors as a sophomore.
“(Trista) has started since she was a freshman and draws the most attention. She’s a good shooter and a good slasher, as well as being very active on defense,” Justice said. “We are trying to get her to hit more from the mid-range. That is the next step her we need her to take for us.”
Senior Chloe Mitchem has been a three-year starter that runs the show for the Raiders, but, at 5-foot-9, she not your stereo-typical point guard.
“She is kind of our point-post player. It seems like the last few years our four on defense ends up being our point guard,” Justice said. “It kinda builds from that big girl that can shoot outside and is a good passer. Then we kinda put them at the point and Chloe fit that role for us.”
Ali Morgan is playing her second season for the Raiders after transferring from Westside prior to her junior year.
“She started all last year for us and was honorable mention all-state. She is our smallest starter, but she finds a way to score,” Justice said. “She was one of the state leaders in steals last year. She plays on the top of our press, has a high motor and makes things happen. She always has a smile on her face and picks the other girls up.”
Rounding out the junior class along with Lester will be Haylie Payne and Katie Booth who both are just under 6-foot tall.
“I won’t be surprised if Haylie is our leading scorer by the end of the year. She is versatile and solid in every part of her game. Haylie has a knack of putting herself in areas to score,” Justice said.
“Katie and Chloe will take turns at point-post. When she was younger, she was always a guard, then she hit that growth spurt and got put in the post. She has always had those guard skills, but Katie fills up the stat sheet and has a big impact because of her total performance.”
Justice will have more height coming off the bench in Abby Pruitt who is a 5-foor-10 sophomore.
“Abby played quite a bit last year as a freshman and she has had a great summer,” he said. “She is the one girl that we have that can post up and score with her back to the basket.”
Sophomore guard Brooke Fuller will also see action off of the bench and is described by her coach as the team’s best shooter.
“Kaylee Blankenship is a freshman that is really athletic and fast. She will play behind Ali and Trista. (Kaylee) is a player that will hustle and chase girls down,” he said.
Without what would be considered a true point guard, Justice feels that is where teams will try to attack his ball club.
“We don’t have that true point guard, but we can be a matchup problem for other teams,” Gehrig said. “Teams will likely try to pressure us to see how we handle it. With our height, I think we can throw over it though.”
To prepare for what he hopes is another state tournament run, Gehrig has beefed up the schedule which include Class AAAA runner-up Cabell Midland at home.
“They are good, but the girls said they wanted to play them,” Justice said. “We play (defending Class A champion) Tug (Valley) twice, Williamstown, Tolsia and James Monroe. We might end up with a .500 record, but our plan is to be battled tested coming into February and hopefully March.”