RICHMOND — All season the Woodgrove girls’ basketball team relied on a versatile, scrappy defense to weather offensive droughts and close out tight contests.
But in a Virginia AA Division 3 semifinal against Robert E. Lee-Staunton at VCU’s Siegel Center Tuesday afternoon, no number of defensive looks or bodies could contain senior point guard Angela Mickens.
With a killer crossover dribble, Mickens had little trouble piercing Woodgrove’s zone while the Wolverines struggled to find open looks on the other end. The combination proved too much for the senior-less Wolverines as the Fighting Leemen rolled to a 58-34 victory. They will face Liberty (26-1), which beat Richlands 42-34, in Saturday’s final.
After making only two of 11 field goals in the opening quarter, the Wolverines (24-5) closed a seven-point deficit to 15-13 early in the second. But that was as close as they would get as Mickens and senior Kemani Crawford formed an unstoppable outside-inside duo. Mickens finished with a game-high 19 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists, and made 15 of her 22 free throw attempts. Crawford added 14 points and 12 rebounds.
“She has a great crossover,” Woodgrove junior Ashley Tilly said of Mickens. “And staying with that and being able to know if a screen is coming or not and know which way she’s going to take the screen — it was rough. She’s very quick.”
Woodgrove 6-foot-3 junior Stephanie Purnell picked up her fourth foul less than one minute into the second half, and with the tallest player on either roster on the bench, the Fighting Leemen (22-6) opened the third quarter with a 12-0 run.
When Halle Lynch’s jumper with 2 minutes 18 seconds left in the quarter finally ended the drought, the Wolverines trailed 40-20 and had several starters in major foul trouble.
Lee-Staunton attempted 22 more free throws than Woodgrove (39 to 17) and committed only 13 fouls to Woodgrove’s 28. Freshman Brooke Basinger finished with 11 points for the Wolverines, who shot just 26 percent from the field for the game and committed 22 turnovers.
The second-year Wolverines set a preseason goal of reaching Richmond for the state semifinals, and despite the loss, a taste of state tournament basketball should provide valuable experience for next season.
“We know what to expect now,” said Sarah Hardison, one of the team’s seven juniors.
Added Wolverines coach Kevin Copely: “I think they’ll be hungry to get back.”