Woodgrove High School combined its trademark suffocating defense with a very efficient offensive performance to derail three-time defending state champion Millbrook, 59-39, in the Region II Division 4 girls basketball semifinals Feb. 21 in Purcellville.
The Wolverines (24-3) jumped out to an 18-4 lead and extended that advantage to 25-6 after junior Halle Lynch drained a 3-pointer to open scoring in the second quarter. Woodgrove led by double digits the rest of the game.
"Our game plan was to play really tough, tight defense because we knew they were a good team. And to come out on offense and really execute," Woodgrove senior Sarah Hardison said.
The victory advances the top-seeded Wolverines to the region championship game and secures their spot in the Virginia Division 4 state tournament for a second straight year. Woodgrove will host Dulles District rival Loudoun County in the region title game.
Hardison led three Wolverines in double figures Thursday with a game-high 19 points. Senior Stephanie Purnell scored 17 points and Lynch added 13. The trio combined for 34 points in the first half.
"You want to be playing your best basketball at the end of the season. I think we are," Woodgrove coach Kevin Copley said. "We are getting better every game. We are getting more intense, I think our offense is getting better. We've had better quarters but as far as a full half goes, that is probably our best first half altogether."
Millbrook showed plenty of resilience. The Pioneers - who had their state-record 84-game winning streak snapped earlier this season - pulled within 11 on a couple of occasions in the third quarter but were unable to slice the deficit to single digits. Brenna Cook led Millbrook (20-4) with 18 points.
"Millbrook is a very good team and are very well coached," Copley said. "They were ready to play ... some of their shots just didn't fall and we played pretty well tonight."
Woodgrove and Loudoun County will square off for the fourth time this season Saturday at 6 p.m. in the region championship game. The Raiders (20-4) won decisively, 68-45, at Sherando in the semifinals.
The Wolverines won the first three meetings against the Raiders, including last week's Dulles District tournament championship game.
"It's a region championship, a chance to hang another banner. You play to win every game," Copley responded when asked the significance of the region final with both teams safely in the state tournament, win or lose Saturday.
"Obviously both teams are in the state tournament so the pressure is off," Copley continued. "I think we'll get after it and I think they will too."
Woodgrove 59, Millbrook 39
M: Cook 18, Borlie 7, Goodman 4, Ackerman 3, Rooks 3, McDonald 2, Reed 2
W: Hardison 19, Purnell 17, Lynch 13, Buxton 5, Brooke Basinger 3, Brittany Basinger 2
Halftime: Woodgrove, 36-21
3-pointers: W 4 (Lynch 3, Hardison); M 2 (Cook 2)
Free throws: M (16 of 22); W (11 of 21)
-All photos by Carl Lukat