Three transfer students help TA gain No. 1 position

Published 8:18 am Friday, January 29, 2010

WAKEFIELD—With Tidewater Academy leading Richmond Christian 15-11 Tuesday night, Ferley Yerby threaded the needle to teammate Mike Green who tossed in an easy layup. This was a typical play on an atypical team, which is tearing up the Virginia Commonwealth Conference.

Yerbey, Green and teammate Tommie Starkes are all from Petersburg, 30 miles down U.S. 460 from Wakefield. The trio has helped lead Tidewater Academy to a 17-1 overall record, a 9-0 record in the VCC, and the No. 1 ranking in the VISAA Division III poll. The team’s lone loss was to Division I Bishop Sullivan from Virginia Beach.

Yerbey, who also was the school’s quarterback, was the first to arrive at TA. St Joseph’s in Petersburg was about to close and Yerby transferred to the school. Starkes was a ninth grader who transferred from Petersburg High School. Green, a friend of Starkes, showed up last year. Starkes is averaging about 16 points per game; Green is the team’s leading rebounder; and Yerby is the sixth man off the bench. TA head coach Walter Westbrook is impressed by the trio’s character.

“They are all good kids. They have good character and we all get along. I have been really impressed by how they have meshed in,” Westbrook said. “They are outstanding basketball players, but their character is really good.”

Starkes said he transferred to Tidewater Academy for academic reasons.

“I drive 30 minutes every morning. It’s about 30 miles from home,” he said. “It’s worth it.”

After the 69-37 pounding Tidewater gave Richmond Christian Tuesday night using an unselfish, team concept offense, even with the subs playing most of the second half, Starkes likes what he sees on the court.

“Everybody was knocking down shots and making good passes and we had good ball movement,” he said. It’s all about teamwork.”

Westbrook agrees.

“The camaraderie of this group is really good. You can take chemistry a long way,” Westbrook said.

“I knew we would be pretty good, but I didn’t know we would be this good.”