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Sat., Feb. 23 - stonewall-jackson-wins-regional-girls-basketball-title
Stonewall Jackson wins regional girls basketball title
© Gainesville Times***Updated at 9:01 p.m. on Feb. 24, 2013***
The Stonewall Jackson varsity girls basketball team won the Northwest Regional tournament on Saturday night at home in Manassas, defeating Colonial Forge 56 to 41 in the championship game.
No other Raider sports teams have won a regional tournament this school year nor qualified for a state tournament appearance as an entire group.
In fact, the only regional title held by anyone from Stonewall comes from senior indoor track and field star David Worthy, who won the boys triple jump on Feb. 13 in Landover, Maryland.
However, the girls basketball team is now set to hold a No. 1 seed as the Group AAA state tournament begins this Friday, March 1.
Stonewall takes on South Lakes, the Northern Region runner-up, in the quarter-finals.
"I think the games are definitely building upon each other, said senior point guard Amanda Hinton on Saturday night.
She joined power forward Nicole Floyd as the team's leading scorers against Colonial Forge as both of the contributed 18 points.
According to Hinton, the team received a "very good scouting report" on Colonial Forge, suggesting that they had a strong three-point shooting game.
That turned out to be quite true on Saturday. Both Nichole Collins and Zhane Barnes hit three 3-pointers a piece for the Bruins, combining to score 27 points.
However, the 36 points put up by Floyd and Hinton bested the Eagles' two best shooters and the Raiders' depth chart proved to be stronger too as the rest of the team combined for 20 points to the Eagles' 14.
Rachel Burns and Sydney Jordan both put up six points for Stonewall, Danielle Burnes hit a 3-pointer and a deuce and guard Hayley Nordike sank a triple too.
Stonewall outscored Colonial Forge in every quarter but only by slim margins in the first (3 points), third (1 point) and fourth (4 points) quarters.
A 17 to 10 margin in the second quarter instead padded the home team's lead at 29 to 19 entering halftime.
Even though the regional victory gave the Raiders a nice piece of hardware to add to its trophy collection and a top seed for the final round of the playoffs, Stonewall actually earned its automatic bid back to states after defeating Forest Park 68 to 47 on Thursday night at home during the regional semi-finals.
That came a year after Potomac knocked out Stonewall out of the playoffs during the regional semi-finals in 2012.
Floyd helped Stonewall build a 10-point advantage at halftime against the Bruins by scoring 18 of her 27 overall points during the first two quarters alone.
Forest Park's leading scorer Breyana Mason put up nearly as many points on the night with 24 but did not hit her stride until the second half as Stonewall's defense limited her to six points by the end of the second period.
Stonewall jumped out to an early 10 to 4 lead in the first quarter but Forest Park eventually tied it at 15 to 15 when Annalea Roeske hit the Bruins' lone 3-pointer on the night with a little over 2 minutes to go in the quarter.
Floyd had other plans though, hitting a pair of foul shots to give the Raiders a two-point cushion before the start of the second quarter.
After that, she made all but one of Stonewall's six open-court field goals before halftime and added in four more foul shots too. No one one Forest Park scored more than three points during that time frame, which allowed Stonewall to build up a 32 to 22 lead by the intermission.
While Floyd and Mason led their teams in scoring, Hinton (15 points) and Rachel Burns (10 points) both put up double-digits in the scorebook for the Raiders too while Jordan added another eight points.
"The mindset for me was I'm rarely going to be (left) one-on-one," said Floyd, explaining the necessity of her teammates contributing offensively.
Perhaps the difference maker in the game though came from Stonewall's ability to follow-through on second and third chance opportunities as the team held a clear advantage in rebounds.
"I think the tempo of the game was dictated by them on the boards," said Forest Park head coach Rebecca Tillett.
According to Stonewall head coach Diana Martinez, that came as a result of a season-long emphasis on fundamentals for rebounding.
"We've been trying to get our (players) to box out all season long," she said, later adding, "That was our number one thing I said at halftime."
Martinez also called for her team to slow down the offense and set up their shots instead of the fastbreaks Stonewall opponents throughout the last decade have grew accustomed to seeing.
No moment of the game put that on display more than the final minute of the first quarter.
After Forest Park turned the ball over to Stonewall with 58.6 seconds remaining, Jordan passed the ball to Rachel Burns, who in turn dished it off to Nordike.
The sophomore shooting guard talked with Martinez along the sideline while Forest Park set up a half-court defense instead of a press.
Nordike then crossed half court bur stayed beyond the 3-point line between the score table and the Forest Park bench.
She tucked the ball under her right elbow against her ribs while and just stood there.
And stood there.
And stood there.
All the while, Martinez nodded approvingly and yelled back and forth with her about what sort of offense to run.
Forest Park, however, didn't challenge her either.
Finally, with 10 seconds remaining, the shooting guard dished the ball and eventually Floyd put up a brick at the buzzer that left Stonewall up 16 to 14.
"We're a rhythm team," said Tillett, explaining how when the pace of the game slows down like that, it can knock her freshmen-heavy squad out of their comfort zone.
Martinez kept up that style of game into the second half too.
"We are up right now, so we can't turn the ball over," Martinez told her players during a timeout in the third quarter as Stonewall led 40 to 26. "We have to be disciplined and not rush."