Edison forwards Carole Miller and Amaya Gray sat comfortably in an empty classroom across the hall from their school’s gym, still sweaty from the regional semifinal game that finished minutes earlier but showing no other signs of discomfort after a bruising, physical contest.
In a 76-53 win, the Eagles continually challenged Tuscarora’s defense, resulting in 33 free throw attempts . As the game dragged on and Edison built and sustained a lead, bodies continued to hit the floor as neither defense-minded squad let up. They combined for 46 fouls.
“That’s what we see in practice,” Edison Coach Dianne Lewis said with a laugh. “That’s our go-to style of play. We’re always going to match a team’s intensity.”
With the win, the Eagles (22-5) earned themselves a spot in the Virginia 5C regional championship game. In Virginia, both the regional winner and runner-up head to the state playoffs, so the Eagles also assured that their season will continue after Friday night’s title game.
Miller led the team with a game-high 26 points. The long-armed junior forward owned the paint, getting a high-percentage shot or a trip to the free throw line just about every time she got a touch down low. She attempted 17 of her team’s 33 free throws.
“It certainly puts it in your head that you have to go up strong and possibly get the and-one if it’s there,” Miller said.
Edison opened the game in a full-court press. When it was broken, its half-court defense homed in on Tuscarora’s Middleton sisters, Isabellah and Kennedy, a senior-sophomore duo who have terrorized much of Loudoun County this winter. In their final game of the regular season, they finished with a combined 11 points.
“We brought the defensive intensity for sure and stayed in an attack mode,” Lewis said. “We’ve been working on that for a long time, and we’re at a point where I feel very comfortable with our press.”
Tuscarora (24-3) hung around during the first quarter and headed into the second down four. But the Eagles outscored the Huskies 19-9 in that second quarter and held on to a double-digit lead for the rest of the game.
A deep bench helped them protect that lead. Nine Eagles scored on the night, and fresh legs helped the Eagles close it out.
“It’s nice,” Lewis said of the state playoff berth. “But we’ve got our goals that we set for the season, so we’re not going to come out tomorrow and say we’re satisfied.”
In the second game of a home doubleheader, the Edison boys’ team edged Stone Bridge, 65-51, to earn a spot in the Virginia 5C regional final and a guaranteed trip to the state playoffs.
In a defensive battle, the Eagles led by eight at halftime and fought to hold on to a slim lead for much of the second half. An acrobatic and-one layup by sophomore guard Jared Clawson put the Eagles up 10 with three minutes remaining.
Senior forward Marquis Washington led Edison with 29 points while sophomore forward Isaiah Rhodes finished with 14 for Stone Bridge.