RICHMOND — The late-game scenario of Wednesday night’s Virginia AAA girls’ basketball semifinal followed the script that had been laid out in the first 31 minutes: Oakton senior Caroline Coyer assisted on the decisive basket in the fourth-ranked Cougars’ 46-43 victory at Siegel Center, and Woodside junior Adrienne Motley had the ball in her hands in the final seconds with one last shot to tie the score and force overtime.
For much of the night, the Woodside offense consisted of clearing out for Motley and watching her create.
The Wolverines squeezed 26 points out of Motley by using that strategy.
But Coyer countered by creating for her teammates. She padding her state-record career assist total with a nifty feed to junior center Elizabeth Manner for the go-ahead basket with a minute left.
Oakton senior Katherine Coyer forced a turnover in front of the Woodside bench with 20 seconds to go and twin sister Caroline hit two free throws with 11 seconds to play. Caroline Coyer also grabbed the game’s final rebound when Motley’s three-pointer drew rim but no net.
“The last shot, it looked money, but I guess I put too much on it,” said Motley, who made 8 of 12 field-goal attempts in the first half and was 3 for 13 in the second, when the Cougars stuck various defenders on her.
Oakton (30-0), which fell behind, 14-3, but led by eight late in the third quarter, advances to face Princess Anne, a 57-48 semifinal winner over Highland Springs, in the state final at 7 p.m. Friday.
Princess Anne spoiled an unbeaten Oakton season in 2009, when the Coyers were freshmen, with a 71-61 championship victory.
Princess Anne is aiming for its fifth state title since 2002.
Of all the game statistics Wednesday, this one might have been the most telling: Oakton had 12 assists to one for Woodside (28-2).
The Cougars also scored 15 points off three-point shots; Woodside’s only attempt was the one just before the buzzer.
Motley “had a great game, but I feel like there were times they just looked to her too much and I felt like it was an opportunity for us to spread it around,” said Oakton Coach Fred Priester, whose team got 28 points and nine assists from the Coyers and 12 points and 11 rebounds from Manner.
“We were getting good motion running our stuff,” Priester said, “and we would have gone down running our stuff.”
Woodside did not substitute. Meantime, Oakton got just 11 minutes from its bench.
In a second half that featured 14 ties or lead changes, the Wolverines inched ahead 43-42 with 1 minute 10 seconds left on a short jumper from the right side by senior guard Alecia Bell. Caroline Coyer found Manner on the other end 10 seconds later for the go-ahead basket.
Oakton on Friday will try to become the first Northern Region team to win an AAA girls’ basketball title since Kara Lawson led West Springfield to the crown in 1999. Thanks in great part to Princess Anne, the Eastern Region has won the past five state titles and eight of the past 11.
Oakton transported a few busloads of students to the semifinal, most clad in “Fear Fred” T-shirts with Priester’s face on them.