ORANGE — After a deep postseason run last winter that took them into the VHSL Class 3 state semifinals, the William Monroe girls basketball team has high goals set again for this year.

The Greene Dragons got their first regular season test on Tuesday night when they traveled to face Orange County and passed with flying colors in a 56-25 defeat of the Hornets.

“I’m happy with our energy and effort,” Dragons coach Jess Stafford said. “I’m happy with how we’ve responded with our scrimmages and it prepared us for this moment. I’m proud of our kids coming together and you can see us gelling already, which is nice to see early in the year.”

The Dragons had three players score in double figures and emptied the bench after taking a 40-11 lead at halftime. Freshman Ella Weaver led the team in scoring with 14 points, including three 3-point baskets. She also led the team with 10 rebounds while adding four assists and a pair of steals on defense.

“She’s a hard worker and a good player,” said Stafford of Weaver. “She can shoot, she can drive and she can handle the basketball. She can do it all.”

Senior Martha Apple finished with 13 points and four steals, while Iyanna Carey added 10 points for the Dragons. Apple was the co-district player of the year a season ago.

“This is Martha’s senior year, she committed to play for Jefferson [University in Philadelphia], so she has her commitment out of the way and she’s really focused on us,” Stafford said. “Being here, being in the moment and really enjoying the ride. I think she played phenomenal tonight.”

Most of the scoring came in the first half against the Hornets, who struggled with ball handling on offense and against the quickness of the Dragons’ defensive pressure. Monroe started the game on an 8-0 run, which included a Carey breakaway score sandwiched between a 3-point basket from Weaver and junior Hailey Morris.

Following an Orange timeout, Monroe aggressively powered the ball into the paint and continued to pour on the points while building a 31-6 advantage at one point during the second period.

The young Hornets squad, which includes five freshmen and two sophomores, slowed down the game in the second half and showed resiliency by using pressure defense to limit their opponent.

Olivia Sciabbarrasi scored nine points to lead Orange. Riley Harrington added seven points and Fredi Carroll finished with six points for the Hornets.

Despite the second loss in as many nights, Hornets coach Willie Alexander is upbeat about his team’s future potential.

“I’ve seen some things we did that moving forward, it will help us,” he said. “We have five freshmen that basically played that second half…They will do what’s asked of them and get up and down the floor. We’re going to be a team in a couple of years that you can’t walk in the gym and expect to beat us.”

William Monroe will take on Madison County on Thursday night and look to continue to improve in preparations for pursuing a fifth consecutive district title.

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