It doesn’t matter what the sport is, or the season, or the level of play. The goal is very simple, win.
At times, those in attendance at a Dublin Middle School Lady Dukes basketball game would hear Head Coach Buddy Farris yell one word over and over.
That’s just what they did, over and over again. Their aggressive style of play and their relentless defensive pressure paid off in the end, as the Lady Dukes finished their season with a perfect 21-0 season.
“It started with hard work and dedication by the girls on the team,” said Coach Farris. “They worked hard all summer to get ready for the season. While not everybody could be together at all times, our top 7 or 8 players were able to play over 70 games this summer. That gave us the solid core group we needed, and then those girls were able to bring along everyone else. They all came together and became a team.”
The season for the school team started with a weekend tournament at Hidden Valley. The three games they played that Saturday set the tone for the remainder of the season. They took out Northside 38-17 in the first game, then defeated Franklin County 52-25 in the next contest. The third and final game of the day was against Green Mountain, which resulted in a 45-38 victory.
They never looked back.
To understand just how dominant this team was, you only need to look at the numbers. Dublin scored 764 points over the course of their next 18 games, an average of 42.4 points per game. They allowed their opponents to score 305 points over those same 18 games, an average of 16.9 points per game.
“We play a very aggressive style of basketball,” said Farris. “When we taught them that, we focused on the fundamentals, but we also made sure they knew that passive players could sit on the bench. We wanted to see them really get after it, and they did. We tried to play against the best teams we could, because we wanted to get better every game.”
Coach Farris also credited his team for doing some things that he’s seen other more talented team in the past have problems with.
“A big part of our success was the mind set of the girls,” said Farris. “They simply refused to lose. They don’t like it. When a game got close, they took it very personally. Over the summer, they lost a game during the early stages of the Virginia Commonwealth Games to a pretty good team. We talked to them about what happened, and you could just see that they didn’t like it. We played that same team in the championship matchup, and despite being down early we came back and won it all. That takes character and heart. They believe in themselves and their team.”
Despite the way it looks, the Lady Dukes didn’t just walk through an easy schedule on their way to this point. They played some of the area’s toughest and most established programs, and by the time the final buzzer sounded they were in the lead each time.
This year Dublin broke a 40 plus game winning streak by the Carroll County girls squad, beating them two times. The first game was a 9 point win and the second game was a 6 point win. They defeated Floyd County soundly each time they played, along with Andrew Lewis, Blacksburg, and Christiansburg.
The double overtime road win over Andrew Lewis, 36-33, was a complete team effort from start to finish. When the Lady Wolverines came calling in the second game of the series in Dublin, the Lady Dukes came out with a fire that simply would not die down. The end result in the rematch was a crushing 39-9 win by the Lady Dukes.
“It’s easy to win when you’ve got talent.”
That might be what some readers take from this, but the fact was that there was offensive and defensive skill shown from top to bottom. In most games, substitutes came in early and often, taking away chances for big time statistics for key players. They didn’t care, they were winning.
Alexis Phillips was the team leader in scoring and rebounds. She finished up with 194 points in 18 games, an average of 11.4 points per game. She did not get to play in the final game against Pulaski Middle School due to being sick.
Amiah Stables finished second in scoring with 161 points, an 8.9 point per game average. With Phillips missing in the final game against Pulaski Middle, Stables and the rest of her teammates had to step up things to earn the final win.
Taylor Dickerson finished third in scoring with 95 points, a 5.2 point per game average. Rounding out the top four was Tyanna Haynes, who scored 84 points, a 4.6 point per game average.
“Our offense was important, but our defense was the key,” said Farris. “We only had three of the 13 girls on the team not score during the regular games this year, but they all played defense.”
Another key to success for Coach Farris and the Lady Dukes this season was assistant coach Jackie Artison.
“She was great for us,” said Farris. “Jackie had free reign to do what needed to be done on the sidelines. She would see things sometimes that I missed and she corrected them. She would substitute players in and out, and she could also help handle the “girl talk” that comes with coaching a bunch of teenage girls. She brought a lot to the team, and she knows the game. It was great to have her there.”
So what happens now?
Four Lady Dukes … Phillips, Stables, Dickerson, and Haynes … have moved up and started practicing with the junior varsity team already. They were scheduled to put on a Lady Cougar uniform Friday night for the first time. As for the others, it’s back to work for them as well.
“I’ve told them that they must continue if they want to find success at the next level,” said Farris. “We won this year because we worked hard to get ready for it. It took dedication and commitment. Coach Grubb and the other high school coaches and players helped these girls out a lot this summer, and now their going to get some good players moving up. We have to keep that going, and it needs to be in both of our middle schools. Pulaski Middle School made some great strides forward this season, and they get a bunch of their players back next season. That’s great, and we need that to continue as well. For Pulaski County to win, it’s going to take everyone doing their part at every level. They have to believe in themselves and the system.”
Ask for a final word on the season, Farris could only smile and say the things that have endured him to players and parents alike during his coaching career.
“The Lord has truly blessed me for these past 30 plus years. Most of the time, the girls made me look good with their talent and hard work. I pray each and every day that I can be a good example to these kids. If I can help just one of them either to perform in life, sports or the classroom, then I’ve done my job. I’m blessed beyond what I deserve.”