Virginia Basketball Roundup
Danni Jackson Scores 39 Points, Leads Forest Park to Region Crown With 75-56 Win Over Stonewall Jackson
Sunday, March 1, 2009
The sobering truth that her home career was coming to an end hit Danni Jackson late in the week, as she took a few moments to think about all the victories and all the memories she had produced on the blue-and-green hardwood in the gymnasium at Forest Park.
Jackson wanted her last game on that floor to be one she would remember as special, one that would encapsulate all the other games she had played there that had helped fill the gym's walls with championship banners.
After exiting last night's game during the final seconds to a rousing ovation from the 1,600 fans, it was clear Jackson had left her mark. She scored 39 points on an array of deep jumpers, dizzying drives through the lane and soft floaters to lead the 10th-ranked Bruins to a 75-56 victory over No. 19 Stonewall Jackson in the Virginia AAA Northwest Region final, adding yet another trophy to Forest Park's cluttered case in the school's main hallway.
After the game, a line of friends, teachers and fans took turns hugging Jackson, who has won one state championship, three district titles and three region crowns during her four-year career as a starter. The 5-foot-3 point guard, who will play for George Washington next year, also has scored more than 1,500 career points.
"That little girl tonight, any time she touched the ball, she was not going to lose this game," Stonewall Coach Nsonji White said. "I don't think if we had Shaq she wouldn't have won that game. It was a tremendous performance from her. She is the reason why they pulled it out."
Stonewall (24-4) led 20-9 in the first quarter, but Jackson made all five of her shots in the second quarter -- including three three-pointers -- to help Forest Park (22-4) build a 39-34 lead at intermission. She scored the first seven points of the second half, then buried a three-pointer with 1 minute 29 seconds left in the third quarter to give the Bruins a 53-39 advantage. Forest Park cruised from there.
"What makes Danni so special is that her teammates believe in her and trust her," Forest Park Coach Rebecca Tillett said. "I think that trust that's developed between them allows Danni's true leadership abilities to shine through."
Forest Park, which advanced to last year's AAA title game, will host the Eastern Region runner-up Saturday at Freedom-Woodbridge in the first round of the AAA tournament. Stonewall will travel to face the Eastern champion.
Eagles Shake Off Slow Start
Early in last night's AA Region II Division 3 girls' final, Freedom-South Riding showed the nerves of a team that never before had been in a game with quite as much at stake.
The Eagles, 1-21 the first year the school opened in 2005-06, started off making just 1 of 9 from the field and trailed Millbrook by three at the end of the first quarter.
But senior point guard Meixandra Porter pulled Freedom out of its slump by scoring 11 of the Eagles' 14 second-quarter points -- including seven consecutive to give them the lead for good -- in a 61-43 victory that ended Millbrook's 23-game winning streak.
"We were very nervous just in the locker room. You could tell everyone had this nervous aura about them," Porter said. "So I think that's why we went through that funk in the first quarter. But after the second quarter we kind of started settling down . . . and I just started shooting, and I was like, 'Let's go, you can do this,' and I guess that's what sparked everybody else."
Kelsey Buchanan added 16 points and 15 rebounds for Freedom (25-2), which will host James Monroe in a state quarterfinal.
Judges Rule in Final
In the boys' Region II Division 3 final, Handley used a 13-0 run to break open a tight game and cruise to a 60-53 victory over Dominion.
After the Titans (20-7) rallied from a six-point deficit to tie the game at 32 behind eight points from DeAndre Albritton, the Judges (22-3) hit three three-pointers, including two from Danziel Cartwright, to open up a commanding lead.