With 59 seconds remaining in Saturday’s Virginia 5A state semifinal, Jessica Harris stepped to the line for what she knew would be the final free throws of her high school career. Edison’s senior and emotional leader tried to use her jersey to wipe away the tears rolling down her cheeks with her jersey, but they wouldn’t stop flowing.
Harris put forth a virtuoso effort against Highland Springs with a season-high 26-point performance. But she and her Eagles teammates could not overcome a massive size disadvantage, which the Springers exploited constantly in their 70-60 win in Fairfax.
“I just knew it was over,” Harris said. “I looked at the clock,and I saw how much time was left, and it was just so many emotions running through me.”
Harris was the lone Eagles player to crack double-figures and showed no fear attacking the Springers’ lengthy 2-3 zone, which featured a rotation of three girls on the back end standing 5 feet 10 or taller. Senior Tatianna Torres scored eight points and added 10 rebounds for Edison.
Throughout the season, No. 5 Edison (25-4) wore down opponents with relentless pressure. On Saturday, the Springers were the aggressors. The Eagles were only outrebounded 35-34, but the Highland Springs front line of 6-foot Najai Pollard and 5-11 Temea Coker combined for 22 points.
“We’ve always struggled with size. That’s been our downfall all season,” Edison Coach Dianne Lewis said. “We watched film and we worked on it, but we knew that would be a struggle for us and a challenge for us.”
Springers senior guard Briana Justice was the key facilitator for Highland Springs’ offense and finished with 13 points and eight assists despite playing through a knee injury.
Highland Springs (24-1) jumped to a 10-2 lead midway through the first quarter and scored 18 points in the paint in the second quarter to take a 41-26 lead into intermission.
The lead swelled to 19 in the third, but Edison made a final charge in the fourth quarter, forcing the Springers into several turnovers in the final eight minutes. A Tierra Cochraham steal and layup pulled the Eagles to within 60-48 with about five minutes left. But four consecutive baskets from Pollard and Coker ended any hope of a comeback.
“It was overall a good experience,” senior Caitlyn Riley said. “We had fun doing what we did. Twenty-five and four is a good record; we just couldn’t get another win.”