By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
HARRISONBURG -- The ninth-seeded Randolph-Macon Academy Yellow Jackets girls basketball squad suffered its first loss of the season on Tuesday, coming up on the short end of a 38-25 score against No. 8 Eastern Mennonite in the first round of the Virginia Independent Schools Division II state tournament.
The Yellow Jackets' splendid season drew to a close with a 17-1 record, and having won the Delaney Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships.
"If you don't win the state championship, you're more than likely going to end your season with an 'L,' so it was great to make the states. It's our first time since 2003," Randolph-Macon coach George Amos said.
Senior guard Katy Bergey was the hottest Flame, draining 5-of-7 shots from beyond the 3-point arc, and hitting two field goals for a game-high 19 points. Bergey added to her school-record scoring total, reaching 1,396 points. She eclipsed Emily Mullet's 1,098, set in 1999, several games ago.
Bergey is a lefty, which may give her a slight advantage against her defenders in the early going. She laced two long-rangers in the first 2:30 of play, and the Flames led from start to finish.
"In the first quarter, they're not expecting [my being left-handed] and, so, it is very nice for starting off the game," Bergey said. "We've never played [Randolph-Macon Academy] before and they didn't play anybody we knew, so we didn't really know what to expect. But everything worked out.
"We have a lot screens and a lot of shooters on the team. Molly Hine and me are great shooting off screens, so that's a lot of our plays."
Karly Crabill, Molly Hine and Katherine Hartzler (six points) added field goals to give the Flames a 12-4 first quarter lead.
Freshman guard Anastasia Voellm led the Yellow Jackets with 12 points.
Voellm sank a 3-pointer 15 seconds into the second half to give the Yellow Jackets a spark of hope, closing the gap to 19-11.
"It's our first time in the states, so we played as best as we could," Voellm said. "[After halftime], we tried to run a different man-on-man play because it wasn't working, and it opened up the middle a little bit more.
"We had a great season. It's my freshman year, so I have a lot more to go. I'm not glad to end it, but we tried our best."
Eastern Mennonite (11-10) then turned up the heat with a 10-0 run built on a layup and two more 3-pointers by Bergey and an end-to-end steal and layup by sophomore guard Kristi Miller, to give the Flames their biggest lead, 29-11, with 3:45 remaining in the third frame.
The fourth quarter was nearly a sleepwalking event, with the first score coming after 2:15 had elapsed when Bergey scored on a putback offensive rebound for the Flames.
Randolph-Macon could draw no closer than 11 points, at 34-23 and 36-25, as the Yellow Jackets gained only four points and the Flames added six points in the final period.
Voellm and sophomore Erin Dullahan each made seven steals for Randolph-Macon, but that effort was overtaken by the Flames' dominance on the boards as Eastern Mennonite outrebounded the Yellow Jackets 21-14, with Kraybill snatching 10 of them.
Both teams committed numerous turnovers, with Randolph-Macon ending with a slight advantage -- 23 in all -- to 27 for Eastern Mennonite.
"Our rebounds were key today -- we had a lot [of rebounds], offense and defense, and we needed that because we were throwing the ball away," Flames coach LuAnne Zimmerman said. "We did well defensively; it was the offense where we slacked off today."
Few fouls were committed by either team. The first free-throw attempt of the evening came with 3:02 remaining in the third quarter, when Miller hit the first of a two-shot opportunity for the Flames in their only trip to the foul line.
The Yellow Jackets' first trip to the free-throw line occurred with one minute remaining in the third quarter, when Allyson McManus sank her attempt to complete a conventional three-point play.
"You can't complain about the season," Amos said. "Losing's never good, and [our girls] don't know how to react to it because they haven't had one. I'm proud of them, they had a great season."
"It was nice to see Katy hitting those 3's again, really all her shots," Zimmerman said. "She's had a couple of games where she's been off and we need that to go in against the number one seed [today]."
Eastern Mennonite makes the long trip to Newport News to play the top seed, Hampton Roads Academy, in tonight's quarterfinal round.