By Tommy Keeler Jr. - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- Central has grown accustomed to dealing with adversity this season.
The Falcons found themselves facing plenty of it again Wednesday night in the Region B, Division 2 quarterfinals against William Monroe. Once again, Central responded. The Falcons came together as a team at the right time and pulled out a 45-41 win over the Dragons. It was the first regional win for the Falcons since 1997.
"It feels so, so great," Central sophomore Brenna Cook said. "We're so proud. The coaches are so proud of us. We've gone through so much this year with injuries, everything that we've gone through. We definitely came together and we're just so proud of ourselves that we could come this far and we're not done yet."
In a tight game, the Falcons faced the first of their adversities in the fourth period. With a little over four minutes left in the game, Central coach Stephanie Cooper took leading scorer Katelyn Poston out of the game and the two argued on the sidelines. Shortly afterwards, Cooper tried to put her back into the game. However, Poston walked back to the bench, and eventually headed to the locker room.
Cooper had no comment on the situation after the game.
Less then two minutes later, Central senior Rebecca Sigler picked up her fourth foul. Less than a minute after that, Central sophomore Sydney Plum had to come out of the game with an injury.
"At times like that, you just have to come together and our team did really good at that," Central sophomore Rebecca Truban said of facing adversity.
With the game in jeopardy, Cook began to take over. She scored six of her 11 points in the final 2:09 of the game.
"I knew somebody had to take charge," Cook said. "I think we just all came together in the fourth quarter."
Central junior Allison Bright hit two free throws to help give the Falcons a 38-37 lead with 3:26 left in the game. William Monroe's Alexa Smith scored inside to give the Dragons their last lead of the game with 3:02 left.
Cook then scored six consecutive points to give Central (15-11) a 44-39 lead with 34 seconds left.
William Monroe's Summer Tarpley hit a jumper with 22 seconds left to cut the lead to 44-41.
Truban was then fouled on the Falcons' next possession. She had missed her only previous free-throw attempt in the game, but she calmly sank the first of two to give the Falcons a four-point edge.
"You really want to make it, but there's so much pressure," Truban said of her free throw. "You just try your best, and I'm glad I made it. At least I made one."
After a miss by the Dragons, the Falcons were able to run out the clock and celebrate. The student section ran onto the floor after the game and mobbed the players.
The Falcons had six different players score in the final period.
"I think they're finally starting to see it doesn't matter who gets the credit," Cooper said. "We win. I don't win, you don't win, we collectively win. And that's how you have to play. You have to play for us to win."
Poston led the Falcons with 12 points, eight of which came in the first period. Bright and Theresa Barela added six each.
Central will now play George Mason on Friday in the Region B, Division 2 semifinals at Strasburg at 7 p.m. The Falcons split a pair of games with the Mustangs during the regular season, but lost 59-49 last week in the Bull Run District championship game.
"I'm actually excited," Cook said of playing George Mason. "We can beat them. We just have to have the confidence. We have to go out and play as a team. It's going to be a really tough game because of the pressure of regionals. We've moved on to the second round. And we have to just come together as a team even more than we did tonight and play our hardest game.
"I think we can beat them."