Dalton, who helped lead the Lady Cavaliers to the best season in school history this winter, signed a letter of intent April 13 to continue her basketball career at Ferrum College. There she will be reunited with Goins, a rising junior for the Panthers.
“That is exciting,” Dalton said. “I’m really excited about that because I definitely looked up to her when I was a freshman and sophomore, so it will be nice to play with her again.”
As a senior at Carroll County, Goins helped lead the Lady Cavaliers to the Group AA State Tournament thanks to an epic 58-56 victory over Hidden Valley in the Region IV semifinals. What Dalton and her three fellow senior teammates learned during that tournament run as sophomores helped guide the Carroll girls to unchartered territory in 2011-2012. Finishing 23-5, the Lady Cavs won their first Region IV, Division IV title in school history and also advanced to the Group AA State Semifinals for the first time.
“I’m still very pleased. It was a really big honor that we made it that far,” Dalton said. “And I’m glad it was my senior year and we could make the final four. I still have a big smile on my face thinking of that.”
A skilled passer, penetrator and shooter, Dalton brought much versatility to the Carroll lineup as she could easily play either guard position. Leading the team in assists (120) and steals (74), she was honored with selections to the All-SWD first team and All-Region IV second team. Her average of 8.2 points per game was the second-highest on the team and she drilled 33.7 percent (32-of-95) of her 3-point attempts. She also averaged 3.8 rebounds per game and finished with 35 blocked shots, incredibly high numbers for a point guard.
For her career, Dalton finished third on Carroll County’s all-time assists list and in the top 10 for career points and steals. She improved so much between her eighth and ninth grade seasons, Dalton never even played junior varsity basketball for the Lady Cavs.
“We took her up from the eighth grade to the varsity. And after four years, most of the time they know what I am going to say before I even say it. Those types of kids don’t come along very often,” Carroll County head coach Marc Motley said. “We’ll get in the huddle and Rachel will say, ‘Coach, let’s do this.’ I like the idea, so I would say, ‘Okay, let’s do that.’ She’s run the point two or three years for us, so I trust her. We’ve had very, very few players, boys or girls, that understand the game better than those two kids (along with Lindsay Martin).”
Dalton said she also considered Roanoke College, Virginia Intermont, Emory & Henry College and Methodist University. In the end, she felt most comfortable at Ferrum.
“I really like Coach (Bryan) Harvey a lot and I really like the girls. They just made me feel like I was welcome,” Dalton said. “I’ve been to a lot of schools and I just felt like I fit in there better than anywhere else.”
Of course, it didn’t hurt that Dalton will be able to reunite with Goins. Neither did the fact that Ferrum is coming off a school-record 23-win season and just the second NCAA Division III women’s basketball tournament appearance in school history. The chance to see a lot of playing time early in her career was also a major factor.
Likewise, Coach Harvey is excited about the opportunity to have Dalton don a Ferrum uniform. He thinks she can play a variety of roles for the Panthers.
“We look at her as 2 or 3 and possibly a backup point guard. Rachel has the ability to compete for playing time right away. I really like her athleticism and I really like her range on her jump shot. She is the type of player that can really stretch a defense,” Harvey said. “We are really excited about Rachel. From what I hear she is a hard worker and comes from a great program. We like kids that come from programs that know how to win and we think she will be a great fit at Ferrum.”
With weapons such as Goins and Martin surrounding Dalton her entire career, the Carroll point guard often looked to pass first and shoot second. Harvey believes Dalton will have the chance to showcase her scoring abilities more at the college level.
“We’re tickled to death about Rachel. I like that she is really unselfish. She had Kayla there a couple of years ago and got her the ball. This year she always looked for Lindsay,” Harvey said. “I feel she has the ability to score more certainly that she did in high school. We have some good post players and it’s always good when you have kids like Rachel and Kayla because it makes it hard to double down inside.”
And as long as Carroll County continues to produce players such as Goins and Dalton, Harvey said Ferrum will always be interested.
“When you have good programs in your area that have success and know how to win, you want to tap into that. And I think with the success Carroll County has and to be able to keep those local kids close to home, that is really important for our program,” Harvey said. “When you have kids here who are having success and enjoying it such as Kayla, that opens doors for down the road, and we are excited about that.”