By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WOODSTOCK -- In a win or go home situation, Central's girls basketball team started off slow and in the end it proved costly.
The Falcons were able to rally and take the lead, but William Monroe was able to respond and pulled out a 63-56 overtime victory in the Bull Run District tournament quarterfinals.
"It needs to be all nothing," Central coach Mallory Skarupa said. "You can't have half the team wanting it, and the other half kind of, I don't know if they just didn't care, or underestimated them or what. All or nothing or you go home. And we're staying home."
William Monroe built a 16-6 lead after the first quarter, led by seven points from Arica Brown.
Central (13-8) got back into it, sparked by senior Allison Bright's six points in the second quarter, to cut the lead to 24-22 at the half.
The Dragons (9-14) used a 5-2 run to start the second half to build a 29-24 lead with 6:48 left in the third quarter.
Central then played its best basketball of the night. Mary Wakeman and Sydney Plum each had seven points during a 16-2 run to give Central a 40-31 lead with left in the third quarter.
"Sydney Plum had a helluva game," Skarupa said. "She ran the offense. She wanted it. Mary [Wakeman] came through for us, knocked down some huge shots. We kind of crawled back into it."
The Dragons fought back with a 3-pointer by Brown, and trailed by six heading into the fourth quarter. William Monroe eventually cut the lead to one with 6:53 left in the game, but the Falcons responded again.
Central used a 6-0 run to take a 48-41 lead with 4:28 left, but the Dragons weren't done.
William Monroe went on a 9-0 run to take a 50-48 lead with 1:30 left in the game.
"We went down eight or nine tonight. Early in the year we would've folded," William Monroe coach Phillip Lamb said. "That would have been it for us. We grew up a lot."
Plum tied the game on a driving layup with 1:02 left, and the game headed to overtime.
The Dragons were able to get off to a quick start in the overtime with baskets by Brown, Breanna Strother and Carrie Doyle and didn't look back. Brown made five free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
The Falcons swept the Dragons in the regular season.
"We had some tough loses and games we could have won this season," Lamb said. "For us to get this win was huge. They bumped us out last year. It was kind of nice we were able to get the win this time."
Brown had a game-high 23 points to lead the Dragons. Strother had 18 points and Doyle added 10 for William Monroe.
Katelyn Poston led Central with 16 points, while Plum had 11 points, 12 rebounds, six steals and five assists. Bright had nine points and 10 rebounds, and Wakeman had 11 points for Central.
Bright is the Falcons' lone senior, and despite the season ending Skarupa is optimistic about the future of the program.
"We have a very talented group," Skarupa said. "If they want it it's there for the taking.
"Not a lot of people expected us to do much. We proved them wrong, proved we were capable. And we'll get back at it next year."
Contact assistant sports editor Tommy Keeler Jr. at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org