Leesburg, Va. — After jumping out to an early lead, the Heritage High School girls basketball team faced a 4-point deficit heading into the half against Dulles District foe Dominion on February 6 in Leesburg.
Led by junior guard Lauren Phelps, senior guard Grace Sibley and senior forward Bri Campion, the Pride used a balanced, second-half offensive attack to battle past the Titans, 75-63, to secure a top-4 seed in the Dulles District tournament.
“We talk about moving the basketball, making teams really play us on defense,” Heritage head coach Otto Jett said. “Instead of coming down there and shooting it immediately, we want to work the ball to where we can get a high-percentage shot.”
Heritage continued to work the ball into the paint for most of the second half as the Pride scored 60 of their 75 points inside the arc. Phelps was the Pride’s weapon of choice throughout the night as the junior scored 13 of her team-leading 22 points in the third and fourth quarters.
“We set [Phelps] up to go 1-on-1 with teams, because we know they can’t stop her 1-on-1,” Jett said. “We like to let her loose, and she knows she can work it in or swing it back out to Grace.”
Phelps was also effective in distributing the ball around the floor, regularly finding Campion and Sibley – who hit a game-high four threes.
Campion shined in the second half, scoring 12 of her 14 points and adding 9 second-half rebounds to round out her double-double.
“She’s been playing inside on varsity for four years,” Jett said. “She has great post moves and knows where the basket is.”
Heritage’s win did not come without any challenge. Dominion junior guard Maddie Beal went on a short run in the second quarter that propelled the Titans into the lead heading into half. Then Beal added 13 of her game-high 28 points in the second half to keep Dominion within striking distance.
Early in the fourth quarter, however, Beal was chasing down a loose ball when she got knocked to the floor. She came up ready to play but headed to the bench for few breaths, which gave Heritage enough time to re-open its lead and eventually defeat the Titans.
Both teams still have regular season games left, but with the win, No. 4 Heritage (6-4, 8-12) secured a top-4 seed in the Dulles District, guaranteeing them to host a quarterfinal in the district tournament. No. 5 Dominion (4-6, 4-12) has earned the No. 5 seed and will travel to either Riverside, Woodgrove or, most-likely, Heritage for their quarterfinal.
“We’ll pretty much stick to the same game plan,” said Jett, about the potential rematch with Dominion. “We want to take their best player out of the game by making her work hard on defense, and at the same time, we need to keep our bigs out of foul trouble.”