AA Division 4 Boys

Courtland Romps to 93-69 Win Over Salem for Virginia AA Division 4 Boys' Title

By Matthew Stanmyre
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, March 15, 2009

RICHMOND, March 14 -- Louder and louder the royal-blue-clad crowd became as the Courtland boys' basketball team walked past their bleachers late Saturday night on the way to their locker room at halftime. The seventh-ranked Cougars had swished, slammed and swatted their way to a 27-point lead at intermission, sapping the drama from the outcome, but these fans weren't going anywhere.

Watching the final few seconds come off the game clock meant too much to the hundreds of Courtland fans who trekked from title-starved Spotsylvania County to witness their basketball team make history. The crowd erupted with arms raised, and the players hugged and shouted near midcourt, when the final buzzer sounded and the Cougars had cemented their 93-69 victory over Salem in the Virginia AA Division 4 championship at Siegel Center.

Duke-bound forward Josh Hairston scored 29 points, Lamar Giggetts and Luke Sellers each had 19 and Avery Green added 17 to help Courtland win its first state championship in boys' basketball since the school opened in 1980. The victory also brought the school its first state title since the field hockey team won a championship in 2005. The baseball team won the AA title in 2000 but the school has never brought home a state banner for softball, volleyball, girls' and boys' soccer or girls' basketball. Courtland's last football state title came in 1987.

"It's like every high school player dreams," Sellers said. "Everybody wants to win a high school championship."

Thoughts of past seasons gone awry were ancient memories as Courtland (27-2) capped a thoroughly dominant season that will not soon be forgotten. The Cougars have beaten opponents by an average of 24 points this year, only losing to AAA foe Landstown and Richmond area private school power Benedictine.

"I think those two losses were good for us for the long term," Courtland Coach J.T. Nino said. "It allowed us to get to this point."

In the second half, the 6-foot-8 Hairston wowed the crowd with an array of one- and- two-handed dunks. He also matched a Virginia High School League AA record with 15 made free throws. It was a rewarding finish for the junior, who had turned down opportunities to play at prestigious private schools all over the East Coast to stay at his neighborhood school.

Hairston stayed at Courtland "for this very moment," he said in the postgame interview room, surrounded by his teammates. "I think all of us were brought here for a certain reason. It was for this moment."

No. 7 Courtland 93, Salem 69 Road Blocked: Salem (18-11) upset higher seeds Spotswood and Hidden Valley to reach the final. The Spartans last won the state title in 1999.

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