Loudoun County High and George Mason were denied trips to their respective state finals tonight at Salem Civic Center. Loudoun County fell, 68-33, to Turner-Ashby of Bridgewater; George Mason lost to Prince Edward, 52-50, in a game decided in the last 30 seconds.
"We just got beat. They were a better team," said George Mason forward Kate Jackson, who had a game-high 26 points. "They were quicker. We showed that we could play with them and we played as hard as we could. But they just beat us."
The Mustangs (21-5) won the Group A title last year and defeated Prince Edward (25-2) last week to win the Region B championship. But they found themselves down midway through the fourth quarter today, until Jackson made a three-pointer and a driving layup to put George Mason up, 46-45, with two minutes remaining.
Prince Edward scored four of the next five points, then Jackson made another three-pointer with 55 seconds remaining to give her team a 50-49 lead. When Prince Edward missed a shot, Mustangs junior forward Liz Gannon grabbed the rebound. However, her outlet pass went out of bounds. Eagles senior guard Deshara Shealey capitalized with a putback of a missed free throw to give her team a 51-50 lead. George Mason then threw away the ball on its next possession to effectively seal it. Prince Edward secured the win with a free throw.
"We were a pass away from winning it," George Mason Coach Jim Spirodopoulos said.
Spirodopoulos said last week he was leaning toward retirement after a 25-year career. The loss definitely ended the career of Jackson, a senior who was the Group A player of the year last season and an All-Met honorable mention.
"It's just a shame that she plays in the fall," Spirodopoulos said. "No one gets to see her. If she was playing in the winter, she'd be a big deal."
Loudoun County (25-3), which had lost to Turner-Ashby last week in the Region II championship game, trailed the Knights by eight points at halftime today. But Raiders starting guard Stacy James had to sit out the second half after suffering a concussion in the first half, and her absence left the team struggling.
"We know we could've won," junior guard Tara Kidwell said. "We'll be back."
Turner-Ashby (28-0), the defending AA champion, will meet the Heritage-Virginia High winner in Saturday's final at 2:30. The Knights have won 54 consecutive games. In the Group A championship, Prince Edward will meet Northwood at 1 p.m.