Carroll connection grows at Ferrum

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The Cavaliers’ floor leader will rejoin a former teammate with the USA South champs.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

HILLSVILLE –– For a wide-eyed kid making the jump from eighth-grade ball straight to the varsity, it must have been nice to have one of Carroll County’s all-time greats to help ease the transition.

Though the first time around worked out pretty well for then-freshman Rachel Dalton and junior Kayla Goins, the two will have a chance at a do-over this fall.

Dalton will join Goins on the Ferrum College women’s basketball team, making known her intentions recently at Carroll County High School.

Dalton will leave one championship program for another, having helped lead Carroll County to its first-ever Region IV championship and a spot in the Group AA Division 4 state semifinals. She will join a Ferrum team fresh off its best season in school history, culminating with a USA South Conference tournament title.

The Lady Panthers advanced to the NCAA Division III tournament and finished their season with a 23-6 record. Goins played in all 29 games, starting 13, and averaged 7.2 points, 3.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game.

Dalton is looking forward to the reunion with her former teammate.

“That is exciting,” Dalton said. “I’m really excited about that because I definitely looked up to her when I was a freshman and sophomore, so it will be nice to play with her again.”

Dalton said she had visited several schools, including Roanoke, Methodist, Virginia Intermont and Emory & Henry, and just felt like she would fit in at Ferrum.

“I really like coach [Bryan] Harvey a lot and I really like the girls,” Dalton said. “They just made me feel like I was welcome.”

Harvey, 132-61 in seven years at Ferrum, has both a point and shooting guard returning for their senior season. Dalton said Harvey told her she would see time at both spots, though in limited amounts.

Dalton should be accustomed to seeing a big jump in the level of competition. Playing eighth-grade ball as a seventh-grader, bypassed the JV level completely.

“She improved so much between her eighth- and ninth-grade years we took her right to the varsity,” said her high school coach, Marc Motley, who might shed a tear or two at CCHS’s graduation this Saturday when Dalton and Lindsay Martin walk across the stage.

“They’ve been playing all summer since they were in the fourth grade,” he said. “They understand the game so well. I’ve coached very few players, boys or girls, who understand the game as well as those two.”

Dalton was a steady presence for Carroll County during her time as a Cavalier, rarely putting up gaudy numbers but always standing out as a solid floor leader with the capability to score from outside, drive to the basket or drive and dish. She averaged 8.2 points, 4.3 assists and 2.7 steals as a senior, shooting 32 percent from the floor, 65 percent from the foul line and 33 percent from 3-point range.

“Rachel shoots the ball well from the outside but she has the ability to attack the basket,” Motley said. “I think she is athletic enough to play 1 or 2 guard at Ferrum and I think she’ll step in and play a lot as a sophomore. She has a tremendous amount of talent.”