The defeat was so thorough and came so early that there were few tears on the Raiders’ faces afterward as sophomore guard Amanda Hinton made her way up the bench slapping five with her teammates, and Coach Nsonji White and senior guard Necole Sterling wore smiles in the interview room afterward.
“Didn’t follow the game plan at all,” White said. “Looked as if we didn’t know what press breaker was and we knew they were going to press. . . . We didn’t handle those lights well in the beginning of the game. They didn’t need any help [on defense], and we helped them a lot early.”
Pick a stat and Princess Anne, with four state titles since 2002 and a state runner-up finish last year, dominated. Stonewall shot 13 for 56, committed 10 more turnovers, got eight fewer steals and was outrebounded by 11. The Raiders’ top two players, seniors Joy Caracciolo (Boston College) and Sterling (Indiana), were a combined 6 for 28 from the floor.
Getting the ball past half court was an accomplishment early on for Stonewall, which wilted under the Cavaliers’ pressure. Princess Anne had 12 steals in the first half, during which the Raiders missed 21 of 26 shots. The score was 22-2 when Caracciolo made a layup 31 seconds into the second quarter.
Stonewall eventually pulled to within 13 points in the second quarter — and outscored the Cavaliers that period — but got no closer.
“We just wanted to play, we just wanted to keep going at them,” Sterling said. “It’s a state championship. Why give up? All those fans there, they didn’t pay $10 just to see people give up. They paid $10 to see those kids keep playing. And that’s exactly what we did tonight.”
Six-foot-3 center Elizabeth Williams, the two-time Gatorade state player of the year, finished with 19 points, 20 rebounds and an AAA state tournament-record 9 blocks.
“Confidence is a really big thing when it comes to games like this,” said Williams, whose team lost to Lake Taylor in the final last season. “And I think that [start] really took their confidence away.”
Princess Anne (30-1) has been a tough draw for Northern Virginia teams. In recent state finals, the Cavaliers beat West Springfield in 2002, Forest Park in 2005, Oakton in 2009 and now Stonewall (20-8), which was making its state final debut and vying to become the first basketball team from the Manassas area to win a state title.