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Loch Raven's Jayla Ragsdale, right, is one of a number of veterans returning for the Raiders.
Loch Raven's Jayla Ragsdale, right, is one of a number of veterans returning for the Raiders. (Jen Rynda, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Jerome Ragsdale has stepped into a potentially promising situation at Loch Raven as the girls basketball coach.

The Raiders return eight varsity players, including three starters, to give Ragsdale plenty of experience for his first year at the helm.

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On top of that, talented point guard Kwanshae Stevenson transferred from Woodlawn and four players from last year's 11-4 JV team, also coached by Ragsdale, have also joined the varsity.

His familiarity with his players should help the Raiders reach their goals.

"I know the girls' strengths and weaknesses," said Ragsdale, who coached the program's JV the past two seasons. "A lot of the girls have played for me at one point in time so they know what I expect out of them. That's what has made the transition a smooth one."

The coach has built his lineup around three returning starters: senior guard Madison Williams (5-6), senior center Savannah Parson (5-9) and his daughter Jayla Ragsdale, a 5-foot-5 shooting guard.

"They are the team leaders and they are guiding the girls in the right direction," he said.

Both Jayla Ragsdale and Parson are returning from severe knee injuries.

"They look a little slow, but they are just getting back into things," the coach said. "We are getting production from them, but we don't have to rely on them so much. We have a deep team."

Stevenson (5-6) is an explosive player, solid defender and excellent ball handler who can motivate the players around her and get the most out of them.

"Her biggest asset is her energy," the coach said.

Junior forward Nadia Franklin is also a starter and offers the Raiders versatility.

"She is our best all-around player," he said. "She plays forward on defense and can run the point on offense."

Sophomore point guard Mikayla Kemp (5-3), senior guard (Jade Joyce 5-5), senior forward Tori Fowlkes (5-9) and senior center Rachel Gardner (5-10) will work as the top reserves.

"We are a pretty deep team and we can play 12 girls," the coach said.

Junior center Kara Ford (6-2), junior guard Linsey Lurz (5-3), junior forward Khamiya Davis (5-7) and senior guards Courtney Dupye (5-3) and Brianna Doyle (5-4) round out the roster.

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"I like the energy this team gives me on defense," said Ragsdale, who inherited a team from head coach Bo Brooks that went 8-9 last year. "They are an aggressive team and play defense well."

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