In a game billed as the first-ever high school meeting between Oakton's Jasmine Thomas (Duke) and Edison's Doreena Campbell (UCLA), the Virginia AAA Northern Region championship last night at the Patriot Center instead boiled down to two role players with their toes glued to the free throw line, lumps in hundreds of throats and a region title hanging in the balance.
Edison senior Tia Spaulding sank both of her free throws with 5.9 seconds left in overtime, for a 60-59 lead, and Oakton junior Jackie Shewmaker missed two foul shots with 0.1 of a second left, enabling the third-ranked Eagles to become the first region girls' team to win back-to-back region titles since Madison in 1995 and '96.
Fourth-ranked Oakton led 52-46 with 1 minute 30 seconds left in regulation before the Eagles, known for their quick-strike capabilities, rattled off three baskets in 37 seconds to tie the score.
Earlier, in the boys' game, top-ranked T.C. Williams put all of its talent on display from the get-go, racing to a lead and then holding off Wakefield, 75-65, to capture the Northern Region title.
The late game had the suspense of a main event. Edison junior forward Chasity Clayton, held scoreless in the first half, pumped in her team's first three baskets of the extra period to finish with 19 points. Thomas cashed in on a pull-up jumper with nine seconds left in overtime to give the Cougars a 59-58 lead.
Spaulding, a 60 percent free-throw shooter, put Edison (28-1) back ahead, and region tournament most valuable player Campbell got whistled before time expired when she attempted to block a shot by Shewmaker, who was driving the right baseline.
Shewmaker, alone at the line and with all nine other players nervously milling around beyond midcourt, missed both shots. She had made 40 of 57 free throws this season and had eight points and five rebounds last night.
"What I loved about it was, she wasn't short," Cougars Coach Fred Priester said. "You come up short, that's a lack of courage. No lack of courage out there. This isn't on Jackie. When we win games it's the team, when we lose games it's the team."
Oakton (26-2), which sustained its first loss since late December, was vying for its third region title in seven years.
The T.C. boys got a boost early from senior point guard Walter Smith, who had four assists in a frenetic opening quarter as the Titans (25-3) grabbed a 25-17 lead. Wakefield (23-5) rallied and several times pulled to within one point and gained possession late in the first half, but didn't get even.
Wakefield drew to within 57-54 when Andrew Allen scored to open the fourth quarter, but the Warriors got no closer.
Senior George Johnson, Wakefield's captain and leading scorer, was forced to sit much of the second half due to foul trouble and finished with just seven points and three rebounds.
Girls: Edison 60,
Oakton 59Boys: T.C. Williams 75,
Girls' Up Next:Oakton will play at the Northwestern Region champion. Edison will host the NW Region runner-up. Times TBA.
Boys' Up Next: T.C. will begin its bid for its second state title, but first since 1977, when it plays Northwestern Region runner-up Freedom-Woodbridge Saturday night in Northern Virginia. Wakefield will travel to play NW Region champ George Washington-Danville at a site near Danville. Times are TBA.