Girls’ basketball seeking fourth state tournament appearance under Shields

FELTON – In three seasons at the helm in Lake Forest, head coach Trenita Shields has put her Lady Spartans’ in the DIAA state tournament every season.

Heading into her fourth season, coach Shields will look to take the next step and make a deep run in the tournament by season’s end.

Despite housing five senior girls on the 2016 varsity roster, Shields still believes her squad is relatively young and will need to put the work in this season to continue the program’s recent success.

“Right now we’re still a little young,” Shields said. “We have five seniors, but past those five seniors we’re pretty young. If I had at least seven players who could be effective consistently then I’d be a little bit more comfortable.”

Those five seniors – Mya Maddox, Arika Burrell, Nicole Scott, Yasmine Rowley and Alexia Cornish – have grown and matured throughout Shields’ tenure with the Spartans.

“This is the first class I’ve had all the way through. When I came in they were ninth graders, so this is my first full graduating class. They are now the leaders and I know they can do it,” Shields said.

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The varsity girls run through plays while coach Shields observes (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

“I’m hoping the five of them will be examples in practice. It’s a little much for them, because they’ve never had this much pressure put on them. But I think they’ll rise to the challenge.”

While varsity athletic teams at the high school level always get the headlines and spotlight, Shields doesn’t take her junior varsity responsibility lightly. She knows that, as ninth and 10th graders, the JV girls will be competing at the varsity level in just a few short years.

“I always work on my junior varsity team, because they’re my future,” Shields said. “So I put a lot of effort into them. I put more effort into my varsity team, of course. But if I can get them [the varsity team] rolling, then I can put some focus on the JV girls because they’re this team’s future.”

She added, “It also makes the transition from JV to varsity a lot easier.”

With appearances in the state championship tournament in each of her first three seasons in Felton, the pieces are in place for Lake Forest’s girls’ squad to turn into a powerhouse program in the Henlopen Conference.

“I’m always trying to build the program into a powerhouse,” Shields said. “Nothing’s promised. Not saying I’d be leaving any time soon, but I may not be here one day. So I want the next coach to come in and already have things established with these kids, where they know the terminology of basketball and they know how to run the game and make adjustments.”

It’s been her varsity squad who has competed in the postseason, but her junior varsity squad has continued to be competitive as well.

“Last year my JV team went 14-4. Some of those kids are now on varsity, but I’m trying to get them out of the junior varsity mindset so they can actually play on the more competitive side of basketball.”

Though her varsity squad is small in stature, the Spartans’ girls are quick and have a vast knowledge of the game of basketball. Coach Shields feels this could work towards their advantage.

The varsity squad is set to begin the regular season with a home match-up against Laurel High School Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 6:15 p.m. That’s when the real work begins.

Sports editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com

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