Warriors come up short against Pioneers in tourney final
WINCHESTER – For the first time in three meetings this season, Sherando found itself within striking distance of county rival Millbrook entering the fourth period on Thursday night.
The final score was the same result, but the Warriors had good reason for optimism after a 69-49 loss to the Pioneers in the Conference 21 West girls basketball tournament final. Both teams will advance to next week’s Region 2A West tournament.
“I told them ‘I was proud of everything you did,'” Sherando coach Mike Marsh said. “I’m not disappointed in anything except the score. Everything else we did I was really pleased with. We played hard. We played aggressive. We played with intensity. The bench was great, everybody was into the game. There isn’t one player that wasn’t involved in some aspect of the game and that was good.”
The Warriors trailed 45-37 heading into the fourth period. Millbrook’s Maddie Green converted a conventional three-point play to start the fourth, but Sherando’s Amber Garrett hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 48-40 with 7:18 left in the contest.
The Pioneers (18-5) scored the next 10 points, including two baskets on rebounds off of missed shots, to pull away for good.
“Amari (Anthony), Haile (McDonald), even Lauren (Reed) and Erika (Reed) pushed on the boards. We knew that going into it if we could win the battle on the boards, then we’d have a great chance of winning it,” Millbrook coach Kevin Barr said. “Especially Amari and Haile — but the guards as well. Sometimes guards don’t like to rebound. They got down and got a little dirty tonight. So that was a difference maker.”
The Pioneers controlled the game the rest of the way as the Warriors could get no closer than 14 points.
The Warriors (16-8) led almost the entire first period. Sherando’s Becca Travis hit a 3-pointer to start the game and the Warriors led until a basket by Green gave the Pioneers a 12-11 lead with just four seconds left in the opening period.
Sherando took the lead for the last time on a basket by Madison Leckie to start the second period. The Pioneers led the rest of the way, but the Warriors were able to hang around for the next two periods.
Millbrook built a 22-13 lead in the second period, but Sherando responded with an 8-0 run.
The Pioneers came right back with the final six points of the second period for a 28-21 lead, including four points from McDonald.
McDonald was a big part of Millbrook’s rebounding success as well, and Marsh said the sophomore is hard to stop inside the paint.
“Haile’s just a strong, strong rebounder,” Marsh said. “If you don’t get in front of her, keep her off the boards, she can just dominate a game. … She’s tough to handle, and she played hard.”
It was more of the same in the third period. Millbrook pushed the lead to 39-26 with 4:25 left in the third, but the Warriors answered with a run of their own.
Sherando’s Davina Lane scored five straight points during a 13-6 run, which cut the lead to 43-37 with 46 seconds left in the period. Lane had nine of Sherando’s points during the spurt, mostly by drives to the basket.
“Davina’s just been playing lights out for the last multiple games,” Marsh said. “She’s aggressive to the rim. She’s getting to the basket, making free throws. She’s shooting the ball well from outside. She’s playing awesome defense on really good players.”
Neither team knows who it will play next week in the regional tournament. The Pioneers will play in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, while Sherando has to play Monday in the first round. There are 10 teams in the regional tournament, and the semifinalists all advance to the Group 4A state tournament in two weeks.
McDonald and Green each had 17 points to lead the way for the Pioneers. Erika Reed had 16 points and Anthony had 10 for Millbrook.
The Pioneers are one win away from a state berth, and Barr said that’s been the goal for the girls since the start of the season.
“That would be huge for them,” Barr said. “We don’t want to settle for just being happy with getting there. We want to make sure we show ourselves well there. So hopefully we can play well.”
Lane led the Warriors with 21 points and eight rebounds. Travis had five points and 12 rebounds for Sherando.
“I don’t know who we’re going to draw, but we just have to go and play our style of basketball,” Marsh said. “And hope that is efficient and sufficient enough to take care of the opponent we play.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org