The Fredericksburg Grizzlies qualified for the Mid-Atlantic Region playoffs in its first two years as an American Basketball Association franchise.

But the Grizzlies were bounced in successive years by the Richmond Elite and the DMV Warriors, primarily because of one shortcoming—a lack of quality size.

As their third season gets underway tonight with a 7 p.m. home contest against the Roanoke Rising Stars at Riverbend High School, the Grizzlies believe they’ve addressed that hindrance by adding three players at least 6-foot-5.

Kervin Rameau, a high-energy 6-foot-7 forward, is the jewel of the haul as he’s shown an ability to get to the rim at will and help out on the boards, as well.

The Grizzlies saw their season end last March with a 133–121 loss to the DMV Warriors. Guards Nick Hall, Quentin Morehead and Tim Turner scored 78 of the Grizzlies’ points, but the team was dominated in the paint.

“Especially in the playoffs and in the games we lost to the Richmond Elite, their size just hurt us,” said Grizzlies’ second-year head coach Julian Bumbrey, who will step down after this season. “They punished us inside.”

In addition to Rameau, 6-foot-8 center Terrill Smith has rejoined the team after one year in Richmond. Jaron Clipper, a 6-foot-5 former Caroline standout who went on to play for Mary Washington, is in his first year with the Grizzlies.

Quentin Jones, a high-scoring 6-foot-6 reserve, is back for his third season after missing the end of 2017–18 with a broken hand.

“I feel like this year we’ll be more aggressive on the boards, boxing out, getting physical and ready to compete at a different level,” Morehead said. “We have all the pieces added.”

Rameau, a 27–year-old Brooklyn, N.Y., native, was receiving interest from Virginia Tech, Kansas State and Liberty, while attending Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy in Winchester. He went on to junior college at Missouri State–West Plains and Hagerstown (Md.).

He averaged 16.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game for Hagerstown in 2012–13 and helped the Hawks to a National Junior College Athletic Association top-25 ranking.

He met Morehead and other Grizzlies while playing against them in a summer league in Charlottesville.

“I battled against those guys for two summers,” Rameau said. “They told me I’d be a good fit, so I took the opportunity and joined the Grizzlies. It’s great energy here. Q is a great point guard and Nick is a great role model. I feel like it’s a great fit for me.”

Hall, Morehead and Turner have been stalwarts for the franchise on the court and in the community since the Grizzlies’ inception.

The co-captains are visible at events in the region, including participating in the Baron Braswell Run Against Teen Violence, a 5k in honor of a former Courtland standout athlete who died in 2006 after he was stabbed at a party. Morehead said the trio takes pride in being loyal to the Grizzlies and the Fredericksburg area.

“It’s not just about the basketball part of it,” Bumbrey said. “They’re in the schools … they’ve been entrenched from day one.”

Tonight, the Grizzlies will face former coach Rick Wright, who helped get the franchise off the ground when he coached the team its debut season.

Wright is now the head coach of Roanoke and will be joined on the sidelines by his former Grizzlies’ assistant Eric Walker.

The Grizzlies will search for their third head coach after this season. Bumbrey has accepted the job as the varsity boys head coach at Fredericksburg Christian School. He plans to coach one final season for the Grizzlies, but if double duty becomes overwhelming he’ll step down and hand over the reins to assistant coach Dorsey Bumbrey.

“I have the passion to do it. I have the energy to do it,” Bumbrey said of coaching both teams. “Thank God I’m healthy … It’s a little taxing on my family, but if it gets too hectic I can easily slide on out. [Owners Vince and Karen Henderson] already know that, so it’s no problem. I’m excited about FCS, and this season with the Grizzlies.”

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Taft Coghill Jr: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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