Robert E. Lee 42,
Park View 37
-- Park View sprinted to a 10-point lead in just more than two minutes against Robert E. Lee of Staunton tonight at James Madison University's Convocation Center.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, the Virginia AA Region II girls' basketball championship game was not a sprint.
Previously unbeaten Park View scored just seven points in the final 10 minutes of play, enabling Lee to overcome the early deficit and win, 42-37, to claim the region title.
Despite the loss, Park View (26-1) advanced to the state quarterfinals. The Patriots will play at Region I champion Tabb (21-5) -- which topped Courtland, 45-31, tonight -- Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. This is the last year the Virginia High School League will have smaller schools play girls' basketball in the fall, which means Lee's coach, college basketball television analyst (and former U-Va. men's player) Dan Bonner, might have to give up his coaching duties. Group AA and A teams will play in the winter, as the larger AAA schools do, starting in 2003-04.
At the start, it looked like the Patriots would win the region and host a quarterfinal contest. They made their first seven shots, taking a 16-5 lead just 4 minutes 45 seconds into the game.
But Park View made only 8 of 39 baskets the rest of the way and turned the ball over 12 times in the final 25 minutes.
"I think their pressure got to us," Park View Coach Larry Simms said. "We got tired and couldn't do the things we normally do best."
A free throw by senior forward Sarah Mattusch, who scored 11 points, gave the Patriots a 30-25 lead with 2:06 remaining in the third quarter.
Lee, however, scored the next 11 points as Park View went almost six minutes without scoring. Senior guard Katy Herr's three-pointer 13 seconds into the fourth quarter put Lee (27-1) ahead for good.
The Lee run ended when Trenae Turner hit a three-pointer with 4:34 left in the game. That jumper made it 36-30.
Park View never got closer than four points again. The Patriots made 3 of 9 shots and none of their five free throws in the fourth quarter.
Herr, the Valley District's player of the year, finished with 24 points. She had 17 in the first three quarters to keep Lee within striking distance.
Jennifer Eppard hit three straight jump shots in the first 90 seconds of the game to help the Patriots open a 10-0 lead. But she didn't score again until 98 seconds remained in the contest. She finished with 11 points.