The Raiders appeared to have the game in hand, but until the final horn sounded, Hegemann refused to take anything for granted — an understandable feeling for a player on a team riding an 82-game losing streak.
With a balanced attack that included seven players scoring, Stuart defeated Lee, 28-15, at home to end a streak of futility that spanned five seasons and included three consecutive winless campaigns.
“I was personally really nervous,” said Hegemann, in her first year on varsity. “I kept waiting for something to go wrong because of the past. But we sank our free throws and ended the losing.”
The victory at the Seven Corners Sunoco Tip-Off Tournament marked the Raiders’ first since a Dec. 19, 2009 win over Falls Church and their first under Coach Brandon Sutphin. No player on Stuart’s current roster had ever won a varsity game with the Raiders (1-2).
Sutphin, who played guard at Fort Chiswell High in southwest Virginia, took over the team ahead of the 2011-12 season with the streak standing at 37 losses. He weathered two more winless seasons, but players continued to turn out for the team while Sutphin tried to instill confidence in them despite the mounting loses.
“With every Stuart team, they never quit and they played hard until the buzzer sounds,” Sutphin said. “I can’t recall one game where they quit, they’ve just had that drive and determination since I got here.”
Heggeman, who spent last year on junior varsity, scored a team-high eight points in Saturday’s win. Isabel Bruns added six points while Hannah Hudson and Brianna Ford scored four points apiece. Stuart made attacking the basket a priority and shot 8 of 18 from the free throw line.
“We get a fresh start,” Hegemann said. “Hopefully, this is kind of a new beginning and we can win games after this. It’s nice to get this behind us.”
After time expired, sealing Saturday’s win, the girls cleared the benches and piled onto one another around the perimeter. Years of disappointment and heartbreak had finally come to an end in their home gymnasium.
“I believe after Saturday night the girls have this look in their eyes of confidence and determination that they want more,” Sutphin said. “They have a hunger and drive that will lead to more victories. We were on such a bad streak for so long, and we want to start a better streak.”