Frequent fouls and careless turnovers forced frustration out of Wakefield’s players, coaches and fans in the opening minutes of Saturday’s 5A North region final at Edison. After digging a quick hole, the Warriors climbed out to tie the game two minutes before the break.
But when the visiting fans stood up to let loose and applaud the Warriors’ resiliency, they woke up their host. Edison ripped off an 11-0 run to close the first half and kept humming through the second on its way to a 64-47 win.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Eagles cut down the nets as region champions.
“We’ve been having rough third quarters lately, but we did a good job tonight of keeping the run going,” freshman guard Charlotte Jewell said. “We have a bunch of girls who can score, and once we get going, teams can’t guard all of us.”
Sophomore Carole Miller led all players with 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Jewell and fellow freshman Cici Harris each pitched in 16 points. After the graduation of All-Met Jada Graves (Elon) and Megan Hendrick (Massachusetts-Lowell), Edison (19-7) started the season with no seniors, five freshmen and five straight losses.
Now as the calendar flips to March, the Eagles have once again rounded into form as the region’s top state title contender.
“There was a sense of everyone doubting us. They were like ‘You lost Jada, you lost Megan, you lost your team,’ ” said Miller, Edison’s only returning starter. “After we started losing, everybody started going 100 percent in practice. That turned into our first win, and we’ve just built it up from there.”
Wakefield (25-5) heads into its first state tournament comforted by the fact that it will not face Edison in the first round. The loss marked the fourth time this season the Warriors lost to their Conference 13 rival.
“It’s not a lesson learned. We’ve played them four times, and it’s not a lesson learned,” Wakefield Coach Marcia Richardson said. “It’s a tough matchup for us because they are fast and quick at every position.”
Thursday night in Hampton, Wakefield will face Princess Anne before Edison takes on L.C. Bird in the state quarterfinals. A win would put the young Eagles back in the state semifinals, where they fell to Highland Springs in overtime last March.
For the second time in as many games in the 5A North region boys’ tournament, Potomac started slowly and carved a double-digit deficit. At home against Albemarle, the Panthers missed everything early to trail by as many as 12.
While rough starts have become a habit, so has pulling away late. Potomac took its first lead with less than six minutes remaining and kept charging to close out a 71-60 home win in Dumfries to repeat as region champion.
The defending state champions will start their title defense Friday night against Hampton. Potomac (23-2) will drive more than two hours to the Tidewater region, while the Crabbers’ campus is just three miles away from state quarterfinal host Hampton University.
In the boys’ bracket, Wakefield won at Potomac Falls, 71-55, to take third place in the region. In the girls’ consolation game, Tuscarora fell to Atlee, 57-52.