By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
WARRENTON -- Randolph-Macon Academy sophomore Erin Dullahan sat on the bench Saturday while five of her teammates, including conference Co-Player of the Year Anastasia Voellm, were announced as the starting lineup for the Delaney Athletic Conference tournament championship game against Fredericksburg Academy.
Little did she, or anyone else there know that early in the third quarter, with the championship hanging in the balance, that she would come off the bench to lead her Yellow Jackets to a stunning 40-25 victory over the Falcons.
Dullahan's insertion into the game came at, perhaps, the Yellow Jackets' low point. After leading 14-2 at the end of the first period, R-MA fans and players watched as Voellm, who had led the Yellow Jackets for nearly three quarters, headed to the bench with four fouls and the score tied 23-23.
"That was the first time this season that we've had to play major minutes without Anastasia [Voellm] on the floor," R-MA coach George Amos said. "This is a team sport, but I had to tell the girls after the game that we needed to give special recognition to Erin [Dullahan]. She took the game on her shoulders after that and led us to victory."
From the moment Voellm left the court, to the last four seconds of the game, Dullahan and her teammates held the Falcons scoreless, outscoring them 17-0 over the rest of the third quarter and almost all of the fourth quarter.
"In the fourth quarter, they hit their shots and we didn't," Fredericksburg Academy coach Jeff Ereckson said. "You have to give them credit, they stepped up their play when it really mattered the most."
With Voellm out and Dullahan leading the team at point guard, the Yellow Jackets committed just four turnovers to the Falcons eight. She also scored nine of her game-high 13 points in the final period.
"When we saw Anastasia, our best player, headed towards the bench with four fouls we were about to have a meltdown," Dullahan said. "We all knew that we were really going to have to step up our play in a big way if we were going to pull this one out."
Faced with a Falcons team that had outscored them 21-11 over the second and third quarters and had all of the momentum, it was a daunting task. With the defense solid for the last eight minutes of play, R-MA forward Kalie Plasier teamed with Dullahan to provide the offensive spark that made the difference.
The Yellow Jackets junior connected for two critical baskets in the fourth period and finished the game just behind Dullahan with 12 points.
"Kalie got hot in the final period, and that helped a lot," Amos said. "But it was our team defense that had the most to do with our win. We held them scoreless for almost the entire fourth quarter. You really can't ask for any more than that from your defense."
With R-MA leading by 12 heading into the second period, Ereckson changed the Falcons defense and completely altered the game's momentum.
Employing a box-and-one against Voellm, the Falcons held the Yellow Jackets point guard scoreless for the rest of the game and drew four fouls on her in the second and third quarters.
"Certainly the first quarter put us in a bad position," Ereckson said. "We changed defenses, and that started to turn the game in our favor."
Fredericksburg outscored R-MA 13-3 during the second period, and trailed by only two, 17-15, at halftime. With 4:11 to play in the third period, a jumper by Emily Torrey gave the Falcons their only lead of the game, 22-21. Although the Yellow Jackets were able to respond with a field goal by Plasier, things looked grim moments later when Voellm drew her fourth foul. Dullahan and her teammates, however, refused to panic.
Anne Douglas Goforth led the Falcons with seven points, and Maya Brown added six points.