Stonewall Jackson’s 65-45 victory over Osbourn in the Cedar Run District semifinals on Tuesday resembled the Raiders’ season of highs and lows.
Stonewall’s shooters found their strokes after a slow start, lifting the Raiders to their highest point in 12 years — the Northwest Region Tournament.
The win delighted Stonewall head coach Yvette Baggett, who said the Raiders last went to regionals in 1989-90. Baggett has characterized this season as a roller-coaster ride.
The highs in Stonewall’s 11-11 season have included a road victory over regular-season district champion Potomac, which Stonewall will face in Friday’s Cedar Run Championship Game at Osbourn. The lows include a 66-62 loss at Osbourn on January 15, when the Raiders watched a lead wilt as four of its best players sat on the bench down the stretch for various reasons.
That victory was one of the high points in a 6-16 season for the Eagles. In the first two quarters on Tuesday, third-seeded Osbourn looked as if it would pull off another victory over the second-seeded Raiders, outhustling Stonewall en route to an early 17-10 lead.
The Raiders’ second-leading scorer, Jeanette Robinson, did not start Tuesday’s game after a stomach virus made her ill on Monday. Robinson still felt “a little woozy” on Tuesday, but she changed the complexion of the game — keying a half-ending 14-2 run — when she entered with 2:02 to play in the second quarter.
Two free throws from Stonewall’s Lauren Haddock cut Osbourn’s lead to 24-20 1:29 from the half, and Courtney Bures followed with a three-pointer from the top of the key 19 seconds later. Tish Hogan, standing near the hash mark, fired a pass to Robinson under the basket. The 5-foot-9 junior scored and drew a foul, then made the free throw that gave Stonewall its first lead of the quarter at 25-24.
After Chelsea Hutton made two free throws for Osbourn, Hogan hit a three-pointer from the left wing. Robinson drew a foul fighting for a rebound on an Eagle miss. Robinson made two free throws, stole the ball on Osbourn’s next possession, and made one of two foul shots for a 32-26 halftime advantage.
“[Jeanette] came right in and got some rebounds and went to the hole,” said Baggett. “And Tish gets our big people the ball. Yeah, it gave us a boost.”
“We were sloppy in the first quarter,” said Hogan. “We were getting good looks at shots, but we weren’t making them. When you shoot a couple that don’t go in, you start to [avoid] shooting. But coach tells us to keep shooting. Some of ’em have to go in.”
Baggett said it took some time for the youthful Raiders to settle in.
“I started two freshmen, two sophomores and a senior,” she said. “That’s a JV team, fellas. Were they a little nervous? Probably. This is their first district tournament.”
Stonewall pushed the lead to 40-27 in the first two minutes of the second half. Osbourn head coach Barry Sudduth pointed to a critical stretch shortly afterward where his Eagles failed to get back in the game.
“In the third quarter, we were down 40-31, I think. We came down four times in a row, and either threw the ball away or missed a shot. That’s four times where we stopped them, but we didn’t score.”
Stonewall pushed its lead to 51-24 with 7:07 to play, and the lead never got below 13 after that.
“The sky’s the limit,” said Baggett. “When our girls put it together, watch out.”
Hogan led Stonewall with 19 points, including a three-pointer in each period. Bures scored 15 and Robinson had 11 in about 10 minutes. Eagle junior Stephanie Gaynord scored 10 of her game-high 20 points in each half.
Sudduth raved about his girls’ effort this season, but felt they could have done better.
“Even though we had more wins than we had before, I still think we could have won a few more… I just thought we let a few slip away.”