Shatori Walker-Kimbrough gets motivation just by looking up during practice.
Banners on the walls of Hopewell's gymnasium do more than just commemorate the Vikings' back-to-back state championships in 2006 and 2007 — they also remind Walker-Kimbrough of the one accomplishment that has eluded her.
“Hopewell has a legacy with back-to-back states,” said Walker-Kimbrough, the 2011-12 Tribune-Review Player of the Year. “I just want to look up and say I was a part of that my senior year.”
The Vikings added another chapter to their lore in 2011-12 by winning the WPIAL Class AAA championship, but their state title hopes came to a quick end when section rival Blackhawk beat them in the second round of the PIAA playoffs.
“It's definitely a motivation just like the loss in 2010 in the WPIAL championship,” Hopewell coach Jeff Homziak said. “Those things are what drive me to be more creative offensively or (find) things we can get better at as a team. We did things defensively to win, (but) we weren't good enough on the offensive side.”
Hopewell and Blackhawk again figure to be among the top teams in the WPIAL after splitting the Section 2-AAA crown a year ago. Though the Vikings might not be counting down the days until their first meeting with Blackhawk (Dec. 20), they certainly know when it is.
“We're really looking forward to getting back at them for that one,” senior forward Raquel Farris said.
Walker-Kimbrough, who committed to play basketball at Maryland over the summer, will again provide the biggest scoring punch for Hopewell. The senior guard averaged 25.6 points and more than 10 rebounds last season.
But she'll be joined by an experienced crew. The Vikings will return three other full-time and one part-time starter from last season. Senior Shaniya Rivers, a starting shooting guard last season, will take over for the graduated Jharrin Gill at point guard.
“Shatori has her role — she's a player,” senior forward Cassidy Rizzo said. “But we need to help her. She can't do it all on her own.”
For her part, Walker-Kimbrough said her biggest improvement this season might come in mental toughness on the court.
While the Vikings and Walker-Kimbrough will have a target on their back, the Hopewell star has a simple message: “Last year is done.”
“People are going to want to beat us, but we're going to have to walk on the floor ready to compete,” she said. “We're not backing down to anyone.”
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.