Coach Latoya Ray looks to give Bucks girls basketball confidence

The Hoke County girls basketball team is getting an attitude adjustment.

“We have to change the mentality of our girls,” said head coach Latoya Ray, in her seventh season coaching the Bucks. “When I was playing I don’t care who we played against, we were going to win this game. The mentality is very different. You have to really push, pull and pour into them the confidence they need. When we played, we stepped on the court with confidence. Girls (on the other team) were like, ‘Oh! Here goes All-County.’ Now it’s us being fans. They say, ‘This team is better than us,’ and we’re saying, ‘No, they’re not.’”

Ray, who played for Hoke County before graduating in 1996 and going on to play at Winston-Salem State, will need to give the Bucks girls all the confidence she has. Hoke is coming off of a 2-23 season last year and has a new look this season.

“Returning players, I have four,” she said. “Just four. We have a young team this year. We have two seniors. One senior (guard Whitney Thompson) didn’t play last year. She played freshman year, sophomore year, then sat out a year. She’s back. We have a senior (forward Dashinedria Riggins), but she’s really a sophomore on the court.”

In addition to newcomers from the JV team, Ray added a pair of transfers that should help change the Bucks’ style of play.

“We’ll be a faster team this year,” she said. “We have a team of girls whose IQ of basketball is a little hire than what we had last year. We have two transfers coming in, one (forward Londen Williams) is injured right now, one (guard Jaida Hines) will be starting. She has a great IQ for basketball, and with her speed, she speeds up everybody else. She makes them play with her. We’ll have good transition ball, but we’re going to be a little bit more structured on offense, really playing down with our big girl, sophomore Karmen Cambpell. She’s 6-foot-1, very strong down in the post. We’ll be trying to play off her this year and her strength.”

The Bucks dropped their opener to Jack Britt, 63-35, but Coach Ray isn’t discouraged.

“Never give up,” she said. “That’s the way I played. Regardless of what the scoreboard says, we never give up. I tell them my motto—look, we’re here with an undefeated mindset. Regardless of the scoreboard, we’ve just got to keep playing.”

“The aggression is there,” she added. “The hustle is there. We’ve just got to get that heart.”