By Jeff Nations - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- Allison Boespflug's patience has been an undeniable virtue for Sherando's girls basketball team this season.
A senior, Boespflug has only truly gotten a chance to shine in her final season as a Warrior. In Tuesday's Region II quarterfinal matchup against visiting Heritage, Boespflug showed once more why Sherando is glad she was willing to wait for her chance in the spotlight. Boespflug poured in five 3-pointers as the Warriors shook loose from a pesky Pride squad for a 66-52 victory and a spot in Thursday's Region II semifinals against two-time defending state champion Millbrook.
In their last home game, it was fitting that Boespflug and Morgan Sirbaugh -- Sherando's two seniors -- contributed so much to the victory. Sirbaugh had a game-high 23 points, and Boespflug's uncanny shooting squelched any hopes of a Heritage comeback.
"I love what Allison Boespflug has done for us this year," Sherando coach Kevin Reed said. "She's a kid who's waited her turn, that didn't give up because she didn't play much her first couple years on varsity. In a 'me-first' kind of society now, she certainly shows the patience of being a true teammate and working hard for an opportunity and capitalizing on it. We're a whole lot better basketball team because of her."
With Sherando (17-11) leading 35-29 late in the third quarter, Boespflug delivered the knockout blow with a flurry of 3-pointers. Over a 55-second span ending at the 1:40 mark, she sank three straight treys as Sherando's lead ballooned to 44-30.
"We just swung the ball fast and they got disorganized, so the 3-pointer was open," Boespflug said. "And when the 3's open, we take all the shots we can."
When Boespflug fell silent in the fourth quarter, Courtney Reid (11 points) and Jessica Hakel (16 points) kept the Warriors' long-range game humming by sinking a combined three treys as Sherando steadily pulled away. Sherando finished with eight 3-pointers in all.
"We really didn't do a great job of getting a hand in their face, but hats off to them for hitting that many," Heritage coach Anthony Long said.
Heritage (13-11) early on looked to be playing for nothing more than pride -- literally and figuratively. Unsteady against Sherando's pressure, the Pride fell behind 11-0 before Syndey McDonald broke the scoring drought with a jumper at the 4:59 mark in the first period. Sirbaugh did the most damage, scoring nine points during that run.
Down 22-8 after the first quarter, the Pride outscored Sherando 13-6 over the final eight minutes of the first half to pull within 28-21 at halftime.
Sherando had seven turnovers in the second quarter and sank just 2 of 14 attempts.
"The one thing they are is athletic, and they got after us, and that allowed them to make some runs," Reed said. "With our limited guards -- we carry two guards on the team that have to play the whole time, it is hard to put teams away."
The Pride hung around that six-point deficit until late in the third quarter, when Boespflug started draining her 3-pointers.
Sirbaugh and Boespflug each finished with a double-double, pulling down 12 rebounds apiece. Reid nearly joined them with eight boards, while Hakel had eight steals.
"I'm definitely going to leave here with a smile on my face," Sirbaugh said. "The other night before the game, we knew it was going to be our last home game and I was really sad. But we came out hard and played hard, and we can't ask for anything more than a win."