With 36 seconds to play and Stonewall Jackson in the midst of a game-clinching run during Saturday’s Virginia 6A North region girls’ basketball championship, Raiders Coach Diana Martinez called a timeout.
Wanting all of her players to experience the on-court joy of winning a region title, Martinez shuffled several reserves into the lineup before singling out Genesis Parker . It was Parker who had made the moment possible, scoring 13 of her 22 points in the fourth quarter. And it was Parker who would remain on the floor to help the Raiders seal their second straight region title with a 64-54 victory against No. 12 West Springfield in Fairfax.
Stonewall (21-6) advances to next week’s 6A state semifinal against Bethel at Robinson. West Springfield (25-2) will face 6A South region champion Cosby in the other semifinal at VCU’s Siegel Center in Richmond.
“There aren’t many left-handed guards out there with skills like Genesis,” said Raiders forward Nicole Floyd, who scored 24 points en route to tournament MVP honors. “With her, we can run pick and rolls, I can kick it out to her and she attacks the basket, so it makes it easy on all of us.”
Floyd initially shouldered the weight for the Raiders, but few of her buckets came easy. Keeping the ball high as she pulled in passes in the paint, the Wake Forest recruit reeled off eight first-quarter points to push the Raiders ahead early.
West Springfield countered with its own play on the inside. Amy Berglund and Shelby Haynes, who combined for 32 points, challenged Floyd at the rim to help knot the score at 27 midway through the third quarter.
With the teams trading runs into the final quarter and the Spartans sagging more of their defenders onto the red-hot Floyd, Parker began to take advantage of the open space. After setting her aggressive tone with a layup through contact, Parker scored seven straight points for the Raiders to help her team build an insurmountable 52-45 lead.
“I had to step up my game because I had a terrible first half,” Parker said. “But I was able to calm down and started taking it to the basket for better shots and help us stay ahead. . . . It feels really good to get this region championship, but we’ve still got business to take care of at states.”
As Andy Stynchula bounded into the lane, determined to snap his team’s fourth-quarter stalemate, he was suddenly dragged down by an overzealous Lake Braddock defender. Unfazed, the W.T. Woodson senior powered up for a layup while falling to the ground, banking in the bucket before sliding just feet from the frenzied Cavaliers student section.
In each of the teams’ three previous meetings this season, the Cavaliers had been cut down by their Conference 7 rivals. But with the spotlight a bit brighter and the stakes a bit higher in the Virginia 6A North region boys’ basketball final, the Cavaliers finally broke through the familiar Bruins roadblock for a 66-56 win.
“Both teams basically knew what the other was going to do,” Stynchula said. “It just came down to who made the most shots and who executed.”
A first-half barrage of six three-pointers helped the Cavaliers build a 40-31 halftime advantage. The No. 17 Bruins (23-4) fought to recover as Will Gregorits and A.J. Alexander crashed the boards for second-chance opportunities. But even as the Cavaliers struggled late from the foul line, timely baskets by Stynchula and Sean Baude helped Woodson (21-8) pull away for the victory.
The Cavaliers will host Landstown at Robinson in next week’s state semifinals. Lake Braddock, which advanced to the first state semifinal in school history, will travel to Richmond to face 6A South champion Colonial Forge.