Wayne Country Day seniors

From left: Wayne Country Day senior Jala Holloman, who finished her Wayne Country career with more than 2,000 points; Wayne Country Day guard Beverly Tabe gets ready to shoot a three-pointer during a game earlier this season; Wayne Country Day’s Langley Barnes dribbles the basketball to half court as head coach Maurice Jones looks on during a game earlier this season. Barnes is one of four seniors on the Chargers’ roster; and Wayne Country Day center Sherica Cox goes up for a layup during a game earlier this season. Cox is one of four seniors who led the Chargers to 22-3 record and an 8-0 conference mark.

They hung out together before and after school, they were always texting back and forth with each other and seemed inseparable from day one.

Head coach Maurice Jones knew the Wayne Country Day girls’ varsity basketball team could have a memorable season on the basketball court, and he was right.

The Chargers won 22 games this season that included a 13-game win streak. Wayne Country Day also finished with an 8-0 conference record.

Four returning seniors provided the leadership that guided the Chargers throughout the season. Jala Holloman, Langley Barnes, Sherica Cox and Beverley Tabe immediately set aside their egos so the team could win.

“For the past three years, it has been great,” Cox said. “I loved my experience with the team. I love my teammates and playing with them has made me a better person inside and out.

“I’m very thankful for my teammates.”

Wayne Country Day started 1-0 before dropping a contest against O’Neal in mid-November. The Chargers’ next loss was against Eastern Wayne on Dec. 16.

Throughout the season, the seniors seized ownership of the team. Their versatility gave Wayne Country Day a luxury it didn’t have in previous years. Opposing teams couldn’t defend just one player since the Chargers had such a versatile roster.

“I’ve played basketball since the seventh grade, and this year has been the most fun,” Barnes said. “I’m the only senior who’s been here forever, and having each girl come in separate years and bring something new to the team has been really special.

“I’ve never been a part of a group of girls who work so hard and for each other and not themselves.”

In the first game of the NCISAA State Tournament, the Chargers came out hungry to feast on their opponent. Hosting Halifax Academy at home, the Chargers looked sharp on both ends of the court. They jumped out to an early lead and didn’t look back. Halifax stood no chance against the Chargers’ defense, and the game was over quickly with the Chargers on top 71-42.

The second game of the state tournament was against Statesville. The game got off to a fast start. The Chargers controlled the pace with their defense and had 34 rebounds by the end of the game.

The team also displayed poise on offense by going into halftime with a 31-20 lead. The Chargers remained in control throughout the second half, switching defense from zone to man and withstanding a late 6-0 run by Statesville. The Chargers never panicked. They stayed under control and finished the game with a triumphant victory to move on to the Final Four of the 2-A state tournament for the first time in more than 10 years.

Semifinal-round foe O’Neal played a suffocating defense that forced the Chargers into uncharacteristic mistakes and their season ended with a 57-29 loss, but the Chargers held their heads high as they left the court.

They fought hard all season and played up to their potential. It had been more than 10 years since the Chargers advanced to the Final Four of the state playoffs, and the Chargers earned every win of the 2018-2019 season.

“This season was great for us,” Tabe said. “My freshman year, we were terrible, and each year we’ve grown as a team and gotten better. Even though we lost tonight, it’s still a really big accomplishment for us, especially since this was our first year in a 2-A division.

“It’s been an honor to play with these ladies.”

After the game, the Holloman reflected on her team’s successes as a group and how the Chargers played as a team — not as individuals.

“Playing for Wayne Country Day has been a learning lesson,” Holloman said. “I have never been with girls that try so hard and work so hard in practice and games. My three years have been exciting. Each day I was on the court with them was awesome.”