Dionna Scott Leads Freedom-South Riding to Virginia AA Division 3 Title, 58-33, Over Robert E. Lee-Staunton in Girls' Basketball
Sunday, March 15, 2009
RICHMOND, March 14 -- Freedom-South Riding had struggled at the start of games since its opening contest in the state tournament last week, and Coach Jason Eldredge was concerned about what would happen if the No. 11 Eagles found themselves in another hole on Saturday in the Virginia AA Division 3 championship.
But if there were any doubts about how ready the team was at the start, those questions were allayed before the opening tip, when senior guard Meixandra Porter ran through her line of teammates and shook hands with the referees and opposing coach -- before her name was announced in the starting lineup.
Porter laughed and returned to the bench to wait for her name to be called. But, like Porter, Freedom (28-2) didn't wait long to get going.
Behind the outstanding play of sophomore Dionna Scott, who finished with a game-high 24 points, the Eagles used an 18-0 run to open up a commanding lead and rolled to a 58-33 win over Robert E. Lee-Staunton (23-6), bringing home the first basketball state title in the history of Loudoun County.
The championship held extra meaning for a program that finished with just one win in its inaugural season in 2005-06. And also for a team that had dedicated its season to Freedom teacher Eric Olsen, who died Jan. 25 after a battle with cancer.
It was the end to a historic run for Freedom, which won the first district, region and state title in any sport for the four-year-old school.
"And I knew that if we got to the state championship, and got to this game, we weren't going to lose," said Porter, who finished with 18 points. "I wasn't going to allow my team to lose this game."
Lee did not make it a priority to limit Scott because of what it had seen on film, according to Coach Jeremy Hartman, instead sagging in to limit Kelsey Buchanan, and the sophomore guard made them pay.
With the score tied early, the Eagles scored 18 consecutive points -- 12 from Scott -- to open up a 22-4 lead.
Meanwhile Buchanan, a 6-foot-3 junior center, nullified Lee's front court, registering a triple-double with 11 points, 21 rebounds and a Virginia AA state tournament record 10 blocks. Porter added five assists and four steals.
"We've gone two and a half weeks . . . struggling each round," Eldredge said. "And I think it's because they saved it for today, because I'm not sure we're 25 points better than them. I think we just came and brought it today. And that's a testament to these kids."
No. 11 Freedom-S. Riding 58 Robert E. Lee-Staunton 33 Dedication: Senior Liz Turpin, the lone holdover from the 2005-06 team that finished 1-21, played four minutes in the game and registered a rebound. After the game, Coach Jason Eldredge recognized Turpin for her dedication to the program. Winning in Style: Freedom closed the season on a 22-game winning streak, winning those games by an average of 21.5 points. Only six of the games were won by fewer than 11 points.