The West Springfield girls knew they had their hands full going into last Saturday’s 6A North Region championship against Stonewall Jackson. The Raiders (21-6) boasted a loaded lineup led by Region Player of the Year Nicole Floyd, a Wake Forest recruit who has owned the paint against every opponent she has faced this season.
Sure enough, Floyd had her way with the Spartans (25-2), racking up a game-high 24 points en route to tournament MVP honors. The Conference 7 champions made things difficult for Stonewall in the first half but never sniffed the lead in the second, eventually falling 64-54 to hand the Raiders their second straight region title.
If the Spartans thought their matchup against Floyd and company was a challenge, they could be in for a rude awakening in Richmond this Thursday. West Springfield will head to VCU’s Siegel Center for a state semifinal contest against top-ranked Cosby, an unbeaten squad with a lineup fit for a college team.
“They’ve got some talent,” West Springfield coach Bill Gibson said. “They’re very big and athletic. We’ve just got to come in and try to control the tempo of the game and limit certain things as well as we can.”
Gibson’s assessment could be the understatement of the week. Ranked No. 18 in the country by USA Today, Cosby features four players committed to play basketball at Division I schools. They’re led by senior forward Dorothy Adomako, a Georgetown commit averaging 21.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Starring in the backcourt is sophomore Jocelyn Jones, who verbally committed to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in eighth grade. Sophomore Tyra Whitehead, a 6-foot-3 center, is already committed to play at Wake Forest, while 6-1 senior Skye Jefferson will play at UNC Greensboro.
The Titans are scary — they beat Bethel 65-43 in the 6A South region final last weekend — but no one should underestimate the cohesion displayed by West Springfield this season. Competing in arguably the state’s deepest region, the Spartans used their depth and discipline to win all but one of their games during the regular season. Senior guard Amy Berglund led the way, averaging 19 points per outing while also displaying a level of unselfishness that gets others involved on offense. Another bright spot has been sophomore guard Shelby Haynes, whose nose for the basket creates problems for opponents in the paint.
“Shelby’s a stat packer. She gives you everything,” Gibson said. “She gives you assists, steals, rebounds, she’ll put points up. We play her from the point to the four-spot, so she’s very versatile. She’ll guard the guards and she’ll guard the post players. She does everything that we ask.”
The winner of Thursday night’s game moves on to the March 14 state championship to play the winner of Stonewall and Bethel.
Lake Braddock vs. Colonial Forge
The Lake Braddock boys are another runner-up facing a tall task this week. Last Saturday’s region final defeat against Woodson pits the Bruins (23-4) against Colonial Forge (25-1) Friday night at the Siegel Center.
Currently riding a 21-game win streak, Colonial Forge boasts a lineup brimming with young talent, particularly on the perimeter. Marco Haskins, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, is the Eagles’ go-to guy, an all-around player with a dangerous confidence beyond the arc. Winston Burgess, a 6-5 junior forward, gives them a big body who can bang inside and hold his own off the dribble. His versatility mirrors that of Lake Braddock senior Will Gregorits, a likely matchup in this one. Damien Daniel, a quarterback for the school’s football team, is a burly swingman who could match up against AJ Alexander.
“I know Lake Braddock likes to force the tempo with their press, and they back into their zone,” said Colonial Forge coach Jason John, whose team knocked down eight three-pointers in their 6A South Region final win over Landstown. “They seem to do a very good job. I know they’re well coached. They’ve got a lot of good size, good athletes who can knock down shots. I think we’re pretty comparable teams. It should be a great game.”
Edison vs. Princess Anne/Highland Springs
If there’s anyone who needs to gear up for better competition, it’s Edison’s Lady Eagles. Coach Dianne Lewis’s group has yet to lose to an area public school this season, with their last nine victories coming by at least 16 points. The Eagles’ latest triumph came in last weekend’s 5A North Region final against Conference 13 rival Mount Vernon, who they beat for a fourth time this season, this time by a score of 65-47.
Now the Eagles (25-3) must face an out-of-area opponent with a proven track record. Highland Springs advanced to its region final on the heels of an 89-33 rout over Atlee, while Princess Anne has appeared in each of the last five state championship games.
Still, Lewis believes her girls are prepared for the challenge.
“We were definitely battle-tested with our out-of-conference games,” she said. “This is just one of those years where the talent of our team is up. Those years when the talent of our team may not be up, we’ll appreciate playing in 5A.”