MANASSAS — Less than a minute remained in Friday night’s game and the Osbourn Park girls basketball team knew that winning its first game of the season depended on exactly one thing: finding a way to break Gar-Field’s full-court trap.
The visiting Indians had just tied the game on a 3-pointer by guard Deborah Allen and they were hoping to create a turnover by putting pressure on the Yellow Jackets’ guards. With 47 seconds remaining, there was little margin for error.
Osbourn Park had experienced only moderate success against the press in its first three games. But on their most important possession of the season, the Yellow Jackets handled it perfectly. With three sophomore guards — Erin Meyers, Sarah Thompson and Reba Stewart — responsible for taking care of the ball, Osbourn Park scored the last eight points of the game to pull out an emotional 51-43 victory.
“I don’t remember the last time we beat Gar-Field. I don’t think I was born yet,” said senior Katie Stauffer, whose three-point play on a breakaway layup and free throw with 41 seconds remaining accounted for the official game-winning points.
“We only have a few seniors. Our team is mostly underclassmen,” she said. “They showed the greatest poise I’ve ever seen.”
The Yellow Jackets showed composure far beyond their collective varsity experience. After coming so close to defeating unbeaten Stafford on Tuesday night, Osbourn Park rallied from an early 9-0 deficit and then overcame a three-point third period by producing 22 points in the final eight minutes.
Stauffer scored seven of her nine points in the fourth period and Thompson, who struggled to find a shooting touch most of the night, hit two pivotal jumpers in the deciding moments. She finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
Meyers led the Yellow Jackets with 17 points — 11 coming from the free throw line — and junior Kat Rippe had 10 points and eight rebounds for Osbourn Park.
“We were just itching for a win,” Stauffer said. “We’ve improved in some aspect in every game and tonight it all came together.”
The Yellow Jackets endured blowout losses in their first two games before nearly handing Stafford its first loss in a 62-58 defeat. The confidence they gained from that performance showed when Gar-Field put the pressure on Friday.
The Indians played the entire second half without junior guard Shannon Massie, who collapsed during a timeout near the end of the second quarter and did not return. They also didn’t have senior guard Kelly Brown for extended stretches. Brown picked up three fouls early in the contest and finished the game with five points.
Still, Gar-Field nearly prevailed. With freshman Sarah Malene (seven points) filling in for Massie and freshman Becky Horesky making her first varsity appearance following a promotion from the junior varsity team, Gar-Field erased a 27-21 halftime deficit. Ayanna McKnight scored a team-high nine points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Indians, who fell to 1-4 overall.
The Yellow Jackets improved to 1-3 by putting together a 27-12 scoring run to close out the first half and then hitting eight of their 15 field goals in the fourth quarter.
“It’s as big as a win can be and not be a district game,” Osbourn Park coach Larry Nemerow said. “Especially for a young team. This justifies everything we’re doing in practice.
“We played incredibly hard and we did some really good things with our defense,” Nemerow continued. “The pretty part, the sexy part of our game wasn’t there, but we made up for it with other things.”