Aldie, Va. — In a game about controlling tempo and momentum, the Thomas A. Edison High School Eagles were able to pressure the Freedom High School Eagles into turnovers and uncharacteristic mistakes. Edison’s use of full court pressure kept Freedom off balance and challenged them to be able to dribble through traffic and staunch defense. In the end, Freedom was unable to surmount a comeback, falling to Edison, 49-32, in a VHSL 5A State semifinal on March 6.
Edison got out to an early lead when junior forward Carole Miller and sophomore guard Charlotte Jewell knocked down some early jump shots, forcing Freedom head coach Teddy Whitney to take an early timeout.
Eventually, however, Freedom started to settle down a bit, settling into their half-court offense. Early buckets from junior forward Jaelyn Batts and junior forward Rose Burnham helped Freedom stay in the game early on. After a slow start to the first quarter, both teams picked up the intensity, leading to a more physical game. At the end of the first quarter, Edison held a 15-8 lead over Freedom.
Despite a clear effort to cut the deficit, Freedom still had a trouble getting easy looks at the basket. On top of that, Edison displayed a very patient offense that emphasized quick ball movement. Throughout the game, Edison calmly moved the ball around against Freedom’s zone defense until they got an easy look at the bucket. Along with this patience, Edison’ s offensive rebounding was strong, meaning there were times they were on offense for nearly a minute. Edison’s slow tempo limited Freedom’s offensive possessions and opportunities throughout the half, cruising into the break with a 29-14 lead.
Starting the third quarter, Freedom began to look more comfortable on offense when Batts started to use her size to convert layups at the basket. Batts also hit several key jump shots down the stretch, including a sweet turn around jumper, in a quarter in which she scored 7 of her 19 points. Overall, Freedom was able to establish momentum by limiting their turnovers, but still trailed Edison by 13 points after the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Freedom seemed as if it had significant momentum to kick off the quarter, but Edison refused to give up their lead. Edison continued to speed the Freedom offense up, while also killing time when the ball was in their hands. Down the stretch, Freedom had opportunities to cut into the deficit, but their five missed free throws kept them from making a comeback. Edison capped the game off by knocking down most of their free throw opportunities, earning themselves a berth in the VHSL 5A State championship game.