VMS girl’s basketball three-peat

Despite majority of the team being newcomers to VMS girl’s basketball, the Lady Vikings won their third consecutive championship this season

Top Row — Kiah Wellington, Audrey Whitcraft, Kaylin Bethea, co-captain Faith Quinn, Taylor McGann, Makenzie James, Ava Clark, Alexa Lovallo, Rebecca Forman, co-captain Macey Wilkins , Ashley Epshteyn, Alix Stzejman, Alexis Mueller, Jordan Kramer, Dasha Anderson, Kaitlyn Nyce. Bottom Row — Emily Ivins (m), Samantha Massanova (m) absent Aubree Pote.

The Lady Vikings at Voorhees Middle School completed the three-peat this past season by capturing the South Jersey Middle School Basketball League Championship for the third consecutive year and fourth time in the past five years.

Coach David Thompson says despite a recent history of sustained success, this team’s accomplishments truly stand out as a testament to its hard work and dedication as a unit.

“This year’s team was the biggest surprise in all of my coaching here,” Thompson said. “We only had three eighth-graders coming back … the year before we had graduated 11 eighth-graders so we were really young. But as it turned out, the team gelled really nicely.”

Despite a plethora of new faces for the team, Thompson says it was able to work together and create good chemistry quickly. Eighth-grader Ava Clark, a manager for the team the past two years, became the starting center this past season, while newcomer and sixth-grader Kaylin Bethea was the team’s leading scorer at 12.2 points per game.

Overall, with only five returning players, the team fielded a roster of 17 girls throughout the season, adding the challenge of creating plenty of new team chemistry for Thompson and assistant coach Michelle Carrafello.

“This was probably the smartest team I’ve ever had,” Thompson said. “Basically you would just tell them something once and they’d have it. They were very coachable … it was a great team to be around and very fun.”

The team went 8–2 during the regular season, before beating Ann A. Mullen Middle School from Gloucester Township 39–19 in the semifinals and Henry C. Beck Middle School from Cherry Hill 41–21.

In the championship game, Voorhees outscored Beck 18–2 in dominating fashion during the second quarter to clinch the championship.

For the first time in Voorhees Middle School basketball history, boys or girls, a player has been part a part of three consecutive championships. In this instance, it just so happens to be two girls who have completed the feat, co-captains Macey Wilkins and Faith Quinn.

Having been able to win a championship each season at VMS, the two remember the efforts of the older girls when they joined the team in sixth grade to make it an easy transition.

“I’m glad we had great leaders in the eighth-graders when we were sixth-graders to help make us comfortable,” Quinn said.

“I think they helped influence how Faith and I have taught as captains, like the different plays and aspects and warm ups we do,” Wilkins added.

Co-captains Faith Quinn and Macey Wilkins hold the South Jersey Middle School Basketball League Championship. The duo are the only two in Voorhees Middle School basketball history to win three consecutive championships.

A staple for Thompson’s program, the girls say Thompson’s “40–20” drills starting each practice helped their game the most; the girls must make 40 layups and 20 jump shots in six minutes, otherwise they must run.

The drill works on their shot, obviously, but also slightly simulates a game atmosphere in needing to shoot quickly.

“It definitely keeps us motivated and it helps use to have repetition in our play, and also not only work on our shooting, but also work on it in a game aspect because you have to shoot fast,” Wilkins said when reflecting on the drill. “It’s definitely helped us a lot, especially over the course of three years.”

The two are thankful for having had Thompson over the course of the past three years, and while they’re sad to leave the VMS program, they look forward to playing basketball at the next level.

Thompson says Wilkins and Quinn were a large reason the team was so successful this season, and also those who have come through the program and the girls’ families are a large reason such success has been possible.

“[Wilkins and Quinn] became coaches on the floor, they help their younger teammates, and when they do something wrong or mess up, they let them know,” Thompson said. “In these past three years, I think it’s a tribute to the girls and a tribute to their parents as well.”

“We have girls who are smart, are willing to be coached and who play unselfishly. They buy in to whatever we’re running and it shows.”