Fleming girls sustaining success with new coach

Colonels have made the state tournament four times in a five-year span

By Eric Johnson - Sports Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - For the past decade the expectation level for girls basketball at William Fleming has been like smoke -- always on the rise. That's a result of earning four state tournament bids in a five-year span. 

"It is an expectation for us to start off the way that we do. It's expected for us to start off hard and come out and don't lose," said senior guard Taniah Johnson. 

That was the past -- but now the present is off to another hot start with first-year head coach Richard Wilson. 

"You know, at first I was real nervous, very nervous. But once we got that first game under our belt, I was able to breathe a little," Wilson said. 

"You know, I have some good strong leaders and the thing that I love about it is that the team responds to them. You know, the other players respond to the leadership and things of that nature."

Wilson is no stranger to Fleming. He spent 15 years with the boys program, guiding the freshman team to multiple undefeated seasons. He was also an assistant on the staff for the 2007 State Championship. As he comes to the girls program his focus is on maintaining success.

"It's basketball and ultimately at the end of the day, we have to get in shape to make sure we get the rhythm, to get the chemistry and as long as we can stay together and play good, sound team defense and share the ball, and things of that nature, you know, I feel that we can compete against anyone," said Wilson. 

Players describe it as an adjustment to the changing of the guard but are committed to making the most of their 12-0 start to the season.

"It's more of a faster pace, like we want to move the ball, we want to pass the ball, we want to get rebounds and we want to get shots. It's more of a team thing though," Johnson said. 

Senior guard Kensey Ferguson added, "Our energy in practice, I think, is really helping us feed off of from the games and just going fast paced with everything we do."

As the season rolls on coach Wilson will try to get the Colonels to rise to the occasion and perhaps make another state tournament run.

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