Wakefield Country Day School’s December athletes of the month included two female co-winners and a seventh-grade basketball leader.
Junior Makenzie Magaro of Amissville is a returning player on girls varsity basketball who led her team in scoring in the opening win over Fresta Valley with nine points. She has scored in every game with a 9.6-point average leading the team to a 2-1 December record in of December. She is a spunky player who is not afraid to get on the floor after the basketball. The second female co-winner is freshman Anne Katherine Burns of Front Royal, who is on the varsity swim team and finished first and third in the 100 Fly in both December Delaney Athletic Conference (DAC) meets. She works hard at practice, encourages teammates and is a positive force for dry-land practices.
The male winner, seventh-grader Gage Landis of Front Royal, is captain of the middle school boys basketball team who averaged 8.6 points per game in December, leading his team to a 29-6 win over Riverfront Christian, where he scored a career-high 14 points. He leads the team in scoring and three-point baskets.
Wakefield’s writing contest winners
Thirteen Wakefield Country Day School students took prizes in the annual holiday writing contest at Samuels Public Library in Front Royal. In this 33rd year for the contest, Wakefield students received more than a third of the 33 prizes awarded.
All of the student winners received their prizes and were able to read their winning entries aloud at a reception at Samuels Library Dec. 20. The Royal Oak Book Shop cosponsors the contest and awards gift certificates to the first-place winners. Wakefield’s award-winning students were (second grade) Liza Dareing, first place; (third grade) Morgan McKinney, third place; (fourth grade) Shannon Vernick, second place; (fifth grade) Eva Parios, first place, Tori Stringfellow, second place, and Lily Shahida, third place; (sixth grade) Bernie Cieplak, second place; (seventh grade); Harrison Wells, first place, Tanner Perry, second place, and Tatumn Vaught, third place; (eighth grade) Rebecca Paulisch, first place, Taylor Jones, second place, and Shane O’Heir, third place.
Light, Lady Panthers learn together in tough district competitions
This week, Rappahannock County High School’s Lady Panthers saw the awaited return of their injured captain Lauren Light. With the team fully intact, the girls split the week on the road and at home, falling 48-24 at Madison and 69-14 at home against George Mason.
For a little over three weeks, Light was put on pause by a concussion and tendon damage in her wrist. “Madison [Jan. 4] was my first game back,” she said. “After sitting on the sideline, watching the team play, it was a lot easier to pick up on things to work on. So, when I finally got back out there, I felt like I was actually doing better than before. I knew our strengths and weaknesses better. Before the injury, my shot was way off, and that night, I felt like I got it back.
“Usually, us and Madison are the most evenly matched teams in the district as far as numbers and talent,” Light said. “This time, they were bigger in physical size and in numbers. But, the challenge of playing them brought us even more together as a team. When we came out with that kind of mindset, and we started working more as a team. We were breaking their press easier. The mindset that we needed each other in order to confront this team . . . that really helped.”
The moment her feet hit the court, Light took control of her game. “I came and out and scored a three-pointer really quickly,” she said. “That really got me in the mindset. I kept taking it to the rim and got to the foul line 4-5 times. I felt that I played well and didn’t get tired as easily as usual. The two games prior to my concussion, I was losing confidence. Plus, I felt like I let me team down by being out, so I tried and played my hardest against Madison.”
Coach Rich Hogan had the pleasure of crediting Light with the team’s high score for the game. “Light came back from injuries to score 10 points, and Maddie Kopjanski scored seven. We just committed too many turnovers when they full-court pressed us. We know we can do better against them here next time.”
On Friday night (Jan. 6), the Panthers hosted the Mustangs in a 69-14 loss. “They are an experienced team that only lost one player from the squad that went deep into regions and states last year,” Hogan said. “Our girls are playing hard.”
The Ladies faced Central Woodstock at home Tuesday night (Jan. 10; results in next week’s newspaper), and take their game to William Monroe this Friday (Jan. 13) for a 6:15 tipoff.
– Melissa Delcour
Panther boys basketball grows skills but not wins
Rappahannock boys basketball spent last week hosting two Bull Run District teams, suffering back-to-back losses. On Tuesday night (Jan. 3), they fell to the Madison Mountaineers, 62-33. Friday night (Jan. 6) saw the George Mason Mustangs carry the scoreboard, 71-29.
Sophomore Ben Estes saw Friday’s George Mason game as a special opportunity. “We got some different lineups going in,” he said. “We changed some substitutions and tried some new plays. I was in a position I was uncomfortable in, but I got to set my teammates up for some shots. That was fun. With the different approach on the game and we got a better score than we would have. We played some better defense than other games. We shut down unnecessary shots, and some mistakes were eliminated.”
Those eliminated mistakes allowed Bradlee Frye to lead the board with 23 points, while Tanyon Lee and J.J. Butler tallied three points each.
“I didn’t play as good as other games,” Estes said, “but it was still a good game with a little bit of improvement going on. The team is still growing and getting better.”
“We aim to improve on our fundamentals daily,” coach Terrence Johnson said of his team.
Panther basketball hosted Central Woodstock Tuesday night (Jan. 10) for a 83-29 loss. Frye led the team with 13 points, followed by Grayson Love with 10. Evan Hitt and Brian Baumgardner totaled three points each. “Fundamentals and more fundamentals,” Johnson said.
This Friday (Jan. 13), the boys travel to William Monroe to take on the Dragons at 7:45 p.m.
Rappahannock’s Junior Panther boys gave up the undefeated start to their season Dec. 14 at Luray Middle School, 38-22.
“We started the game slowly, got behind early, never could get it going,” said coach Robert Thornhill. “Lots and lots of turnovers. Everybody got playing time. Working these so-called non-district games as stepping stones for the team. These games are getting us prepared for our Valley Middle School competition. Jackson Strickler led the team with eight points.”
In two more disappointing games on Jan. 4-5, Panthers hosted Madison to lose 34-27 and remained at home to fall to Luray, 34-21. With Madison, “we started slow again, losing 14-0 , but outplayed them over the last two and half quarters,” Thornhill said. “We outscored them 27-20. We are working on playing a full game.Turnovers early and poor shooting dug us a hole, but we responded well and played hard after the first quarter. Strickler, Evan Marcus, and Michael Cooke each had six points to lead the team in scoring.
Against Luray, “the boys were encouraged that they fought hard to the end. We closed within seven in the fourth quarter, but a few missed close range shots cost us in the end. Seventh-grader Justin Ramey played his first game since knee surgery and led the team in scoring with six points. Like I said earlier, these games are making us better for the last four games of our district schedule.”
The trend continued Monday (Jan. 9), when the Panthers lost to Randolph-Macon Academy, 31-21. “I told the kids, we need to get back to fundamentals,” Thornhill said. “We shot poorly and made what I call unforced turnovers. Even with no one guarding us, we would turn the ball over.
Hope came for the Panthers on Tuesday night (Jan. 10) when they hosted Warren County and triumphed, 24-18. “We shot 0-14 at foul line and 12-49 from the field,” Thornhill said, “not good. We picked up the defense in the second half, which led us to victory. Evan Marcus scored eight, and Michael Cooke had several steals and rebounds on the defensive side.”