This was to be the Year of the Crabbers.

Hampton's girls basketball team had all the ingredients of a state champion: Size (two 6-footers up front), a quality leader at the point (Khadijah Berger), and experience (three seniors in the starting five). Yet for the fifth year in a row, the Crabbers made it no further than the first round of regionals.

Instead, it was Bethel that carried the banner as the Peninsula District's only team — boys or girls — to make the state tournament. The Bruins advanced to the Group 6A semifinals, where they led Stonewall Jackson late in the third quarter before losing by double digits.

A look back at 2013-14 season … and ahead to 2014-15.

5 Memorable Players

1. Khadijah Berger, Hampton. Though her scoring dropped slightly (from 17.1 to 16.2 points a game), her overall game improved. Few were able to match her speed, vision and savvy. Bound for Temple, she leaves Hampton with 1,361 points in her career.

2. Adria Strothers, Warwick. Somehow, she didn't make first- or second-team All-4A South, but that doesn't taint an outstanding sophomore year in which she averaged 19.3 points a game. She was scoring at a 22.5 ppg clip before injuring her knee Jan. 11.

3. Alexsis Grate, Kecoughtan. With a fearless style, Grate, another sophomore, has become nearly impossible to guard. Your best bet is letting her have the outside shot, but that's improving. Going into her junior season, she already has 697 points.

4. Keli Foster, Bethel/Britani Bryson, Bethel. In their four years as starters, the Bruins went from also-rans to inaugural Monitor-Merrimac Conference 2 champions and state tournament participants. Foster's scoring fell from 12.4 as a junior to 10 ppg, but Bryson had her best year with 11.8 points and 11.5 rebounds a game.

5. Kemonei Earp, Woodside. Undersized at 5-foot-9 (the same height as Berger), Earp had to play the post. She responded by leading the Wolverines in scoring (12.1 ppg), rebounding (12.0 ppg) and assists (5.0 apg).

5 Memorable Moments

1. Feb. 26 | Bethel makes history. Facing an opponent that had won 15 consecutive games, the most recent of which a blowout of Woodside, the Bruins beat First Colonial 57-49 in the 6A South semifinals to qualify for the state tournament. Though Bethel advanced no further, it was the best season in school history.

2. Feb. 25 | Not-So-Super Tuesday. Hampton and Warwick both had high hopes of making a deep run into March, but their seasons ended on the same night at Hickory High School in the 5A South quarterfinals. Neither was competitive — the Crabbers lost 71-40 to Maury; the Raiders bowed to Princess Anne 81-37.

3. Feb. 19 | Woodside 54, Kecoughtan 39. In one of those rare conference finals that mattered, the No. 4 Wolverines beat the No. 3 Bruins to claim Monitor-Merrimac Conference 2's second regional bid. The first had gone to Bethel, which won the regular season but lost in the semifinals.

4. Dec. 28 | Denbigh 58, Amelia County 44. The Patriots broke a 32-game losing streak with a win over Amelia County, a Group 2A school about 30 miles west of Richmond. Denbigh later beat Heritage and Lakeland to finish with three wins — three more than last season.

5. Jan. 13 | Coaching change at K'Tan. Three days after an upset win at Bethel, Kevin Williams resigned as head coach at Kecoughtan, saying he was not willing to make some changes his superiors demanded. Under Michele Vinnie, the Warriors won seven of their last 11 games but didn't make the postseason.

5 Storylines for 2014-15

1. Returning star power. Entering their junior seasons, Strothers and Grate each will be within 40 points of 1,000 for their careers. Strothers already has committed to Hampton University, but the recruiting should really start to pick up for Grate.

2. Change of the guard on West Queen. With Berger and classmates Mikayla Sayle and Niasia Caldwell gone, the Crabbers will have a different look next season behind senior Dara Pearson, who is committed to Charlotte, and junior Latisha Smith.

3. Champs must reload. From its best season ever, Bethel will lose six of its top eight scorers, including Bryson and Foster. Next year's Bruins will be led by junior Nyra Williams and senior Kayla James. They'll have a tough act to follow.

4. Look out for Woodside. The Wolverines overachieved by making the postseason, which can be attributed to grit and coaching. Next season, Woodside will see an influx of talent. The JV team went undefeated this season, and five rising ninth-graders should make an immediate impact.

5. Year 2 of Reclassification. The 2013-14 season was a learning experience for everyone with new rivalries and increased travel. The questions coaches had going into the year should have been answered, at least somewhat.

Johnson can be reached by phone at 757-247-4649.