Paul VI added the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I title to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference crown it won Tuesday with a 64-56 victory over previously unbeaten Cape Henry on Saturday afternoon in Petersburg, Va..
The No. 3 Panthers (28-6) opened up an early lead that hovered around 10 through most of the game before the Dolphins (26-1) stormed back with a 7-0 fourth quarter run that cut the lead to four.
But the game then morphed into into a foul-shooting battle, and the Panthers hit enough free throws to stay two possessions up through the game’s final minutes.
“The intensity we had and the spirit we brought, no matter how much they came back, we always had the spirit to keep pushing,” said Panthers junior Josh Reaves, who scored 10 points in the win. “We found the determination to finish the game strong.”
On a team loaded with high-profile stars, less-heralded but ultra-reliable senior Evan Taylor provided an extra push for the Panthers, chipping in five points and setting the tone for Paul VI’s intensity.
“Evan Taylor was everywhere tonight,” Reaves said. “Grabbing rebounds, getting steals, shifting help-side, beating people to the spot. He made a ton of defensive plays.”
Kevin Dorsey led the Panthers with 17 points, and Marcus Derrickson also contributed a big peformance with 13 points including a key three-pointer late in the second half that helped seal the win. The Panthers have one more title on their 2013-14 checklist — the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament — which begins March 13.
The season-ending victory capped a dominant week for the No. 3 Panthers, who on Tuesday edged St. John’s to win their first Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament championship.
Junior center Jonquanae Cole added 11 points for Paul VI (29-5), which won its eighth consecutive VISAA title and the 10th in 12 years, and closed its season on a 16-game winning streak.
The Panthers held St. Anne’s-Belfield to just 10 points in the first half, and were able to apply the same defensive pressure that helped them win the WCAC title just four days earlier. Paul VI defeated Flint Hill and Collegiate to reach Saturday’s final and finished the tournament with a 28.5-point average margin of victory. Freeman, the WCAC player of the year, added 10 rebounds in the championship game.
“We just played Paul VI basketball. We shared the ball really well. The pressure and defense really established everything for us,” Paul VI Coach Scott Allen said. “It was just an awesome way for us to end the season.”
After reaching its second VISAA Division III boys’ title game in the last three years, Christ Chapel Academy’s season ended in Saturday’s final just like it started — with a narrow loss to Millwood.
Stephen Brown led the Lions with 19 points, and Jordan Griggs added 17, but it wasn’t enough to overcome several inopportune turnovers in the second half of a 68-62 loss at Virginia State University in Petersburg.
“We got out to a slow start, but we were tied after the first quarter, so we thought we could hang in there. And we did,” Lions Coach Clinton Simmons Jr. said. “But the turnover bug kept biting us, and that made it tough for us to overcome.”
After the Lions (24-9) built a five-point second-half lead behind the active play of Brown, Millwood’s C.J.Williams drained consecutive three-pointers to give the Bobcats a lead they would never relinquish.
“Stephen is our warrior, and we had guys like Jordan and sophomore guard Tayler Brletic come in and contribute for us,” Simmons said. “It’s tough to lose at the end of the day, but I’m very proud of this team and our program.”
Brandon Parker contributed to this report