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Vikki Sixtos, right, and Essie Belton are the senior co-captains of the Lakenheath Lady Lancers basketball team. The girls, who’ve spent four years on the team, are good friends off the court as well.

Vikki Sixtos, right, and Essie Belton are the senior co-captains of the Lakenheath Lady Lancers basketball team. The girls, who’ve spent four years on the team, are good friends off the court as well. (Bryan Mitchell / S&S)

RAF LAKENHEATH — Vikki Sixtos and Essie Belton are the rarest of commodities at Lakenheath High School: seniors with four years as Lancers.

Sixtos’ father and Belton’s mother serve in the Air Force and requested extensions so their daughters could enjoy a stable senior year at Lakenheath. Now, with their final year of high school winding down, the two longtime friends and co-captains of the Lady Lancers basketball team are working hard to lead Lakenheath to victory.

But, along the way, they’re certainly enjoying the view.

“I am trying to do the best that I can and not take anything for granted,” Sixtos said. “I’m pretty sure I am not going to play basketball like this again.”

You can’t blame her for waxing nostalgic — even prematurely.

While the team’s record is below .500, the girls appreciate the camaraderie between teammates and the road trips they enjoy together.

Lakenheath, the United Kingdom’s only Division I school in the Department of Defense Dependents Schools system, traveled earlier this season to Belgium and has two road trips slated for later this season in Germany.

The trips are far from high luxury. There are long bus trips, sleeping on cots and multiple games in a day. But the students, especially seniors with only a few continental trips remaining, revel in the adventure.

“You learn to like it, you learn to love it,” the 5-foot-1-inch Sixtos said. “You never realize what you have until it’s gone.”

The two also are focused on helping the team jell in order to reach its potential come tournament time.

“It’s going good so far,” the 5-foot-6-inch Belton said. “We need to work on our defense and our teamwork.”

Both girls lead the squad with their experience in adapting to new players and styles.

“It’s hard, trying to play together like this at first,” Belton said. “They don’t know how you play and you don’t know how they play. It takes some time to build a team.”

Head coach Janis Ready praised her senior leaders.

“They both work extremely hard and love the game, that’s why they come back every year,” Ready said. “They are great girls and we are very proud of their efforts on this team.”

After this season, both are heading back to the States.

Sixtos is looking into the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Georgia while Belton fancies four years at either Grambling State University in Louisiana or the University of South Carolina.

Sixtos would like to be a social worker, focused on children, while Belton aspires to hold a marketing position with the NFL or NBA.

But, no matter what they do, the two plan to stay in touch long after the final buzzer has sounded on the season.

“We’ve been friends a long time and will always stay close,” Sixtos said.


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