For years, the Lady Bulldogs have fought a numbers issue when it comes to roster size with a small turnout in years past.
This year will be none different as coach Sam Terry enters his second season with a roster of seven players consisting of three seniors, three juniors and a sophomore.
“I think we are going to be a lot better this season,” Terry said. “Every one that is here has varsity experience and they have all improved.”
Last season the Lady Bulldogs struggled not only with low numbers, but fought with quarantine issues during the COVID-19 delayed season of 2021. The end result, a 2-7 record in Terry’s first season at the helm of the Lady Bulldogs.
“It was such a hard time trying to get into a rhythm. We would start then stop, start then stop, then we would have to set out a month and then come back,” Terry said. “I knew it was going to be a rebuilding season and most of the girls that we had last year played junior varsity and last year was their first varsity experience.”
Junior Emma Wilcox, Van’s leading scorer last season at just over 10 points per game, returns as does fellow junior Maycee Johner, who is expected to run the point.
“Maycee worked all summer and will be our point guard,” Terry said. “Emma was our leading scorer, and she has grown a little bit.”
Seniors Autumn Estep, Jazmyn Gibson and Alyssa Sampson return for one final year in a Van uniform.
“Jazmyn is probably our best outside shooter and Alyssa is coming back from injury and didn’t really have a chance to play,” Terry said. “All of our seniors are going to help us and push us.”
Junior Rylea Gogas and sophomore Hailey Adkins complete the Lady Bulldogs roster.
“Rylea is really athletic, but she just has to get it under control,” Terry said. “
Van will play a 22-game schedule highlighted by games against Boone County rivals Scott and Sherman. The Lady Bulldogs travel to Class AAAA Greenbrier East will host Class AAAA Riverside, where Terry once coached, and play Class AA schools Liberty (Raleigh) and Poca.
The Lady Bulldogs will have home-and-home games with Class A schools Greater Beckley Christian, Greenbrier West, Hannan, Meadow Bridge, Mount View, and Richwood.
“It is based on where we are at where last year, I may have jumped the gun a bit,” Terry said. “When I was at Riverside, a lot of my coaching contacts were with the bigger schools.”
“I might have gotten ahead of myself, but this year I scheduled based on where I thought we were at,” Terry said. “I am not going to say it’s challenging because I don’t know what the other schools have, but last year we played Winfield, Riverside and I scheduled some of the bigger schools. This year I scheduled it’s single A and it’s more balanced.”
When postseason play rolls around, the Lady Bulldogs will take part in the Class A Region 4 Section 2 tournament featuring reigning Class A champion Tug Valley. Other schools in the section are Tolsia and Sherman.
“It’s a challenge. You got a monster in Tug Valley and a little monster in Tolsia,” Terry said. “That is not a knock on Tolsia, but you have to go through both of them if you want to win the section.”
Van opens the season at home against Hannan on Dec. 2.
“I think we are going to be a lot better than last year as far as win totals,” Terry said. “I hope that we will surprise some people this season.”