8 Games in 13 Months: Loudoun County vs. Woodgrove
1.6.12 - Loudoun County 58, Woodgrove 39
2.10.12 - Woodgrove 51, Loudoun County 44
2.11.12 - Woodgrove 61, Loudoun County 53 (Top Seed Playoff)
2.17.12 - Loudoun County 39, Woodgrove 33 (Dulles Finals)
1.4.13 - Woodrove 58, Loudoun County 49
2.8.13 - Woodgrove 38, Loudoun County 35
2.15.13 - Woodgrove 53, Loudoun County 37 (Dulles Finals)
The Woodgrove High School girls basketball team, clearly tired of watching other teams celebrate tournament championships, led wire-to-wire Feb. 16 to beat nemesis Loudoun County, 53-37, and collect the program's first Dulles District tournament title at Tuscarora High School.
Last year, in just the program's second season, the Wolverines advanced to the Virginia Division 3 state semifinals. But along the way, Woodgrove lost in both the Dulles District and Region II tournament finals.
While Loudoun County (21-4) came in having won the last three district tournament titles and five overall since 2006, the young Raiders with four sophomores or freshmen in the starting lineup could not keep up with experienced Woodgrove (22-3).
The Wolverines, who returned nearly its entire roster from its 2012 state tournament team, led from the tip. Senior Maggie Buxton (12 points) knocked down a 3-pointer in the opening minute and by the time senior Stephanie Purnell (9 points, 13 rebounds) made a nice post move in the closing seconds of the first quarter, it was 10-3 Woodgrove.
For the Wolverines, success starts with defense, defense, defense as the team allows opponents just 31.9 points per game and in nine games this season have held teams to 25 or less.
"We just play up-tempo pressure defense and just try to frustrate offenses," said senior Sara Hardison (8 points). Hardison (George Mason recruit) is one of four Woodgrove players that are signed to NCAA Division I college scholarships for soccer and will head outdoors as soon as the basketball season ends in hopes of defending the school's VHSL state soccer title.
These girls know how to win and adding a girls basketball state title banner would be a nice addition to their resumes.
"[State title] is our goal and we are going to work hard to get there," said Brittany Basinger, one of the Wolverines defensive sparkplugs and a soccer signee with Penn State. Buxton (James Madison) and Ashley Tilly (Coastal Carolina) are the other two soccer girls on the roster.
It was one of Woodgrove's younger players Feb. 16, sophomore Brooke Basinger, who had the best offensive night with 18 points. In the second quarter it was the Basinger sisters show as Brooke and Brittany combined for 13 of Woodgrove's 14 points in the stanza.
While the Raiders took care of the ball in the first quarter, the pressure went up a notch in the second and it led to transition baskets for the Wolverines.
"It's all about discipline. Never underestimate teams and stay disciplined about the up-tempo defense," said Purnell.
Woodgrove showed that discipline to start the second half as the Wolverines, leading 25-15, could have lost a little focus but instead it was a suffocating defensive start. Woodgrove forced turnovers on five straight possession and the Raiders were able to get off just one shot in their first eight trips down the floor in the third.
"We just try and stop the ball at all times and know where all the players are on the court," said Brooke Basinger, who used a combination of a quick first step and great court instincts to intercept County passes.
By the time the defensive dust cleared, Woodgrove had doubled Loudoun County, leading 34-17 with 4:30 still left in the third.
During that decisive run, Brooke Basinger took a pass from her sister Brittany for a layin, Hardison rebounded her own miss and knocked down a soft jumper on the baseline, Buxton forced her way in for an "And One" opportunity and then Buxton drained one of her three treys.
In all, Woodgrove forced a dozen turnovers in the quarter and led comfortably 40-23 heading into the final quarter.
The Wolverines then erased any hopes of a County comeback with three baskets to open the fourth. Purnell scored on a put-back and then a Purnell rebound on the defensive end led ahead to an easy Hardison layup. Another Purnell -- simply too strong inside for the Raiders on this night -- follow-in made it 46-23 and the Wolverines were able to cruise home to victory.
County was led by junior Maggie Phillips and sophomore Chloe Knox, each with 10 points.
Unlike last year when the two teams were in different divisions for regionals and states, both schools are Division 4 this year. Woodgrove is the top seed and County the No. 3 seed in the 8-team tournament that starts Feb. 19 with quarterfinal action.
Woodgrove will host No. 8 Liberty, in a rematch of last year's Division 3 finals, and County hosts No. 6 Powhatan.
Of Woodgrove's three losses this year, two have come to AAA schools (Battlefield and Stone Bridge) and the other loss came to Division 3 power Spotswood, which is currently 24-1.
Of Loudoun County's four losses this year, three have come to Woodgrove, and the other loss came to AAA Lake Braddock.
-Dan "Double Dribbles" Sousa is the http://www.VivaLoudoun.com
Woodgrove 53, Loudoun County 37
Player FG (3 PT) FT = PTS
Knox 4-8 (1-4) 1-1 = 10
Phillips 3-6 (0-0) 4-4 = 10
Tibbits 2-7 (1-5) 1-2 = 6
Gianelos 3-5 (0-0) 0-0 = 6
Gillis 0-4 (0-2) 2-2 = 2
Brennaman 1-2 (0-0) 0-0 = 2
Bowers 0-0 (0-0) 1-2 = 1
Paige 0-4 (0-0) 0-0 = 0
Szoka 0-1 (0-0) 0-0 = 0
Totals Totals 13-36 (2-11) 9-11 = 37
Player FG (3 PT) FT = PTS
Brooke Basinger 8-12 (2-4) 0-3 = 18
Buxton 4-6 (3-5) 1-3 = 12
Purnell 4-10 (0-0) 1-3 = 9
Hardison 2-12 (0-0) 4-7 = 8
Brittany Basinger 3-4 (0-0) 0-0 = 6
Tilly 0-4 (0-1) 0-0 = 0
Lorinchak 0-1 (0-0) 0-0 = 0
Hornyak 0-1 (0-0) 0-0 = 0
Totals 21-50 (5-9) 6-16 = 53
LC 33 (Knox 7, Gianelos 6, Tibbits 6, TEAM 5, Phillips 4, Paige 3, Gillis 1, Bowers 1)
WG 30 (Purnell 13, TEAM 6, Hardison 5, Brittany Basinger 3, Lynch 1, Brooke Basinger 1, Buxton 1)