SPRINGFIELD, Fla. (WMBB) – The Rutherford girls basketball team, 11-1, is ranked No. 5 in their class and hot in pursuit of their program’s first state title.
The Lady Rams have outscored their opponents by an average of 35 points per game this season in their 11 wins.
This year’s success follows a 2022 season with 24 wins and a trip to the Class 4A Region Final. The difference this season is Rutherford is returning a healthy junior guard, Braniya Baker, who sat much of her sophomore year with an injury.
“Honestly, having her back has been amazing,” junior guard Nautica Bouie said. “It feels good for her to be back playing with us. We’ve just been all back together on the court and it’s been great.”
Last February, Rutherford lost a heartbreaker to Bishop Kenny in the region final, just 12 points away from the Final Four.
Baker said the team can’t turn back the clock, but they can earn revenge.
“It feels great to be back,” Baker said. “When we lost to Bishop Kenny, I wasn’t able to play. So, I’m back now, and I can help my team and now we can go to state.”
In addition to Baker’s return, the Lady Rams have also added some young talent to the roster, including a rising star in the 8th grade.
“Last year, we had a J.V. player, Ka’nahla Hayes, and now she’s on varsity,” Bouie said. And she stepped up her game a lot, and she fits so well in varsity.”
Under first-year head coach Tony Davis, the Lady Rams appear to be a lock to make the playoffs. But sophomore guard Ava Butler said one of their main focuses is to earn the support of the community during the regular season.
“People underestimate us with how young we are,” Bulter said. “So we really need fans to come and support us and know that we are actually good enough and just that we can make it to Lakeland.”
While one of the most talented teams in the region, Rutherford is also one of the youngest. They don’t have a single senior on the roster but they believe this is the season to start filling the trophy case.
“I feel like we should get it back-to-back our junior and senior year,” Baker said. “Just so before we leave we can put our name or something.”
Rutherford returns to action Saturday when they visit Leon in Tallahassee.