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Paul VI girls capture 5th straight VISAA title

By Preston Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 7, 2011; 4:33 PM

Paul VI Catholic won its fifth consecutive Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division 1 girls' basketball title on Saturday, and of the five, this one might have been the most satisfying and dramatic.

Up by two, Flint Hill missed the front end of a one-and-one with about eight seconds left. Paul VI freshman forward Ariana Freeman grabbed the rebound. At the offensive end, she rebounded a miss and was fouled putting up a shot with less than a second left.

Freeman made both free throws - the first one hit a lot of rim before dropping - to force overtime. In the extra period, sophomore guard Marlena Tremba scored seven of the Panthers' nine points for a 48-41 victory at Benedictine High School in Richmond.

It was an unlikely finish for a team that had lost almost all of its key players from last season and relied in large part on six sophomores and three freshmen. Each team made only 10 field goals in the championship.

"It was one of those games you didn't want to end, but thankfully when it did, we were on the right side of it," said Paul VI Coach Scott Allen, whose team had beaten Flint Hill (26-7) by three early in the season, also in overtime.

The Panthers (21-12) made only one field goal in the second half, a Tremba three-pointer. Their other eight points came at the line, none more significant than Freeman's two, with the court cleared. She is a 73 percent foul shooter.

"In all honesty, she didn't flinch," Allen said. "She seemed as confident as I've ever seen anybody shoot a free throw."

Tremba totaled 64 points in the three state tournament games, including a semifinal victory over WCAC rival O'Connell, and was named tourney MVP. Freeman and Paul VI senior guard Devan Fitzsimmons also were named to the all-tournament team.

"This was the most excited I'd ever seen a team after winning a game," Allen said. "This was a whole new adventure for these kids. It was a group that wasn't expected to win. For them to pull together to play at the level they did was extremely rewarding for them."

Eight of the Panthers' losses this season were to No. 3 St. John's , No. 7 Forest Park, No. 8 Good Counsel, No. 10 Holy Cross and No. 13 Georgetown Visitation. Three others were to McNamara.

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