By Preston Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 11, 2007
RICHMOND, March 10 -- The word in December was Edison junior forward Chasity Clayton, an O'Connell transfer, was the missing piece who would usher the Eagles to their first state girls' basketball title since 1978.
For almost the entire second half of the Virginia AAA final Saturday at the Siegel Center, it looked like this indeed was second-ranked Edison's year, including when Clayton followed her own miss to give her team a one-point lead with 20 seconds left.
But in the final seconds, with the crowd rising to its feet, Hampton senior guard Raychele Payne jump-stopped in the lane and made a 10-foot jumper over Clayton's outstretched arm for a 46-45 victory. It was Payne's only field goal of the game.
After a timeout, Edison inbounded the ball under its basket with 2.8 seconds left and got the ball to Clayton, who missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.
"If I make this, it's all good," Clayton said of her attempt that came from the right of the top of the key. "But if I miss it, get 'em next year, I guess."
Edison (30-2) becomes the sixth team in AAA girls' basketball history to lose consecutive state finals but the first to do so by one point each time. The Eagles fell, 57-56, to Forest Park in last year's championship. They led in the fourth quarter of each game, including by seven Saturday.
UCLA-bound senior guard Doreena Campbell led the Eagles with 18 points. Clayton had seven points and 11 rebounds.
Hampton (30-2) had three starters with three fouls in the first half, but by allowing one opponent this season to top 50 points, the Crabbers knew their team defense can bail them out. On Saturday it was a matter of cutting off penetration lanes and closing in on shooters.
Edison led by seven with 4 minutes 26 seconds to play when Campbell hit a three-pointer. But Hampton inched ahead with 32 seconds left.
"Two in a row, one point, down to the wire," said Edison Coach Dianne Lewis, whose team trailed 17-4 in the second quarter but was ahead by two by halftime. "I don't think the heart can take that much longer."
Hampton 46, No. 2 Edison 45 Lid on the Basket: Hampton handcuffed both Northern Region state entries, limiting Oakton to 28 percent shooting (15 of 53) in the semifinals and Edison to 29 percent (14 of 48). Power Shift: The Northern Region won 18 of 24 AAA girls' titles from 1976 to 1999 but none since. The Eastern Region has won four of the past seven.