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Osbourn Park, twice the state runner-up, looks poised to take next step

Osbourn Park 64, Gainesville 29

With a raucous third quarter and the steady play of senior Alana Powell, Osbourn Park captured its third straight region championship on Friday with a 64-29 victory over Gainesville. (Spencer Nusbaum/The Washington Post)
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In unison, as if on command, Osbourn Park’s players looked toward the ceiling, flexed and screamed.

Friday’s Class 6 Region B girls’ basketball championship game against Gainesville, a 64-29 win in Manassas, was never particularly close. But this moment, the climax of a 20-0 run to open the second half, was different. The Yellow Jackets had been in this spot before — the victory clinched their third straight region title — but they had never done it quite like this.

“Energy was up. Everybody was hype,” senior Danielle Darfour said. “We’re feeling great!”

The No. 12 Yellow Jackets (23-4) have long stressed effort, but there’s an acute hunger with this year’s squad. In 2021 and 2022, the team reached the state title game, only to fall short against Madison. With six returners and a state championship three wins away, the Yellow Jackets are confident in their blueprint.

For years, the framework has started with cerebral play from the point guard position. This season behind senior Alana Powell, the Cedar Run District player of the year, has been no different. Fellow senior Kori Cole, a point forward in the mold of Draymond Green, has assumed a similar responsibility. A bevy of talented young talent has clicked under their lead.

“What you better hope for, as a senior, is that you are so loved and respected by those individuals under you that they are willing to go to battle for you every single day,” Coach Chrissy Kelly said. “That is where Alana and Kori have blossomed. And their teammates have followed suit.”

For as dominant as Gainesville (23-4) has looked this winter, it was the underdog Friday night. All three of the Cardinals’ previous losses came against Osbourn Park, and down two of their top three scorers, a fourth go-round was a big task.

The second-year program had persevered with a depleted roster before and looked undeterred in early spurts. But Osbourn Park’s frenetic pace proved too much to handle.

In the first quarter, the Yellow Jackets’ defense, led by Darfour, forced more turnovers (11) than the Cardinals had points (eight). At the nucleus of their offense, Powell directed traffic, keeping Osbourn Park in harmony on a 20-6 second-quarter run en route to a 34-21 halftime lead.

The third-quarter run was all they needed. The starters sat out most of the fourth.

Powell led all scorers with 21 points, while sophomore Alex Brown added 12.

“Honestly, there’s plenty of pressure playing under Coach Kelly at practice,” Powell said. “That makes these environments [easier].”

Both teams will advance to face southern Virginia powers in the state tournament, with Osbourn Park taking on the loser of Monday’s bout between Thomas Dale and Manchester and Gainesville facing the winner.