Kavs hungry for wins

Published 5:34 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Kenston Forest School’s varsity boys basketball team features a large returning group this season and a new face at the helm of the program.

The Kavaliers are off to a 3-4 start.

Scotty Atkins moved away, and taking over as the Kavs’ head coach is Rachel Bartasavich.

“For the last three years I’ve been at Nottoway Middle School, and before that I coached in Lynchburg, Virginia,” she said. “So, I’ve been coaching on and off, between (Amateur Athletic Union) and middle schools and some high school summer leagues, for about 22 years.”

This is her first year coaching at the high school varsity level, and she is one of the few women in Virginia coaching on the boys side of varsity basketball.

“I was pretty happy that Joe Maione gave me the opportunity,” she said, referring to Kenston Forest’s athletic director.

She leads a team that is largely made up of returners from last season, but the squad is by no means old.

“We only have one senior on the team,” Bartasavich said. “It’s a very young group of boys.”

Last season, the Kavaliers started 5-1 but ended up at 6-16 overall, suffering from mid-season transfers, injuries and illnesses.

As for the 2018-19 campaign, Bartasavich is not putting a cap on what the team can do.

“My expectations are limitless,” she said. “I have a fantastic group of boys, both in school, academically, as well as athletically. They’re hungry for wins. I know that last year was a disappointment to them as far as the amount of wins that they got, but this year, they’ve started really coming together and working together.”

Kenston Forest has several standouts that Bartasavich highlighted, including sophomore point guard Moewuante Morrison and freshman point guard Trey Lewis, who transferred in from Nottoway High School.

“They’re able to calm the others down and actually lead the team,” Bartasavich said. “What I’ve told them is that a coach’s perspective from the sideline is one thing, but a point guard’s perspective and the way they lead the team is a 360-type thing … I’m trying to teach them not only just to play the game but to actually know the game, to be able to switch defenses or offenses on their own without always having to look over at me to be able to read what the other teams are doing.”

Senior center Kenny Underwood provides a paint presence for the Kavs and is a difference-maker on the boards.

Another strong player on the team is junior Jah’Tavious Houston, but he recently underwent shoulder surgery and will be out for the season. He will still be a key factor for Kenston Forest, though.

“He’s going to be on the sidelines with me, learning also to be a leader from the bench,” Bartasavich said.

Though Houston will miss the season on the court, the coach said, “He’s a junior, and it’s like I told him — this gives him the ability to get ready for football season as well as being ready for basketball season next year.”

Looking ahead to key games on the schedule this season, the coach said, “I think one of our biggest tests is going to be actually against Amelia Academy. I think they’ve got a really strong offense altogether. They’re very fast-paced, and so we’ll have to match them as far as pace, which we can do. We have strong, quick guards and then, of course, we’ve got some good height underneath, so it’s just going to be staying calm, working together and moving the ball.”

Kenston Forest returns from a holiday hiatus on Thursday, Jan. 3, when it hosts Fuqua School at 6:30 p.m.