D&E women’s hoops return Johnson, other leaders; introduce first-year head coach in 20-21 season

Sports

ELKINS, W.Va. – The Davis & Elkins women’s basketball team finished last season with an 8-21 record (6-16 in conference) and changed head coaches in offseason.

Yet, there’s optimism surrounding the Lady Senators heading into this season.

Jamiyah Johnson leads the way, coming off a junior campaign in which she average 18.8 points and 15.4 rebounds per game. Including Johnson, five of the top seven scorers from last year’s roster return.

With that experience returning to the court in her first season in charge of the team, head coach Rachel Swartz has liked what she’s seen over the offseason and the prolonged leadup to this year’s campaign.

“I think we have threats at every position, on every place on the floor. It’s a great problem to have,” said Swartz via Zoom earlier this week. “It’s every position. I just really couldn’t ask for a better group, and I just think they needed somebody to just step in and believe in them, and think that what they bring to the table can only be amplified.”

Things do start and end with Johnson, who is both figuratively and literally in the middle of just about everything the Lady Senators do on both ends of the court.

“She’s a leader, she really is, on and off the court for us. her presence, the way she carries herself when she’s around her teammates, you can tell this is her program. She is a huge piece to this puzzle, I don’t think that’s a secret. Everyone in the conference knows that. She’s such a powerhouse when she’s playing.”

Davis & Elkins head coach, Rachel Swartz, on star senior forward Jamiyah Johnson

Johnson led the way for D&E a year ago, with Tucker county native, Sydney Nestor, being the only other player to average double figures in scoring. Meanwhile, guards Payton Mohler and Jessica Eadsforth-Yates both average over eight points per game. And with Johnson leading the charge, the Lady Senators outrebounded their opponents by nearly eight rebounds per game a season ago.

With the COVID-19 pandemic delaying the start to this season, Swartz and company have had ample time to get to know one another, both on and off the court.

“It has given us a lot of time to get to know each other, both on and off the court. More so for us, a little bit, off the court,” said Swartz. “This group makes it so easy – the transition. You know, a different coaching style to the new one. We haven’t missed a beat at all.”

Swartz says the name of the game heading into this year is consistency, as well as keeping a level head during a season that will likely be unpredictable due to COVID-19. Winning close games will also be key.

“They didn’t win as many as I thought they should have last year. But their margins of loss, for the most part, weren’t too large,” Swartz says. “I really think we just clean up a couple things, and then implement a couple new ideologies that I have, I think we’re going to be just fine. I’m just really looking forward to getting this group and staying healthy, and staying on the court, getting after it.”

Davis & Elkins begins the season on January 7 at home against Frostburg State.

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