Ashburn, Va. — Early in the fourth quarter, the Stone Bridge High School girls basketball team found themselves trailing 34-26 to Loudoun County in their first game back from winter break. However, after extending defensively into a full-court press, the Bulldogs started to chip away at the lead, before sophomore forward Madison Moon intercepted a pass and finished at the other end to take a 36-35 lead. That late defensive intensity proved to be enough as Stone Bridge came from behind to defeat Loudoun County, 39-37, on January 3 in Ashburn.
“We were able to step it up defensively and get some hands in passing lanes. That’s where our energy comes from,” Stone Bridge head coach Kyle Linder said. “Once we were able to do that, we were able to turn the tide in the fourth.”
Led by sophomore forward Gianna Cunningham, the Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter but fell behind after a slow-scoring second quarter.
“We came off a really, really rough game going into the break against Woodgrove – who’s a great team and took it to us big time,” Linder said. “In my six years here, we’ve really struggled coming off of break, and we saw that a lot in the second and third quarters tonight.”
It quickly got worse for the Bulldogs as Loudoun County junior forward Elayna Whitley poured in 7 of her game-high 15 points in the third quarter alone.
“[Leah] Harden and Whitley are really, really good players, and they had a short bench tonight,” Linder said. “We knew if we could kind of wear them out and frustrate them a little bit, we were going to have a chance in the end.”
A defensive spark got the Bulldogs going in the fourth quarter. Their full-court pressure forced a number of Loudoun County turnovers, and the Bulldogs were able to convert on the other end.
I was really proud of the mental fortitude we had to get over the hump. It means a lot for our momentum going into the second half of the season.
—Stone Bridge head coach Kyle Linder
Stone Bridge junior center Sarah O’Day scored 6 of her 10 points in the fourth, while Cunningham knocked down a lone free throw in the quarter to round out her 10-point performance.
“She’s a player who didn’t play a lot last year, but who has really bided her time and put a lot of hard work in,” Linder said. “I’m really happy with what she’s done and excited for what else she has to bring the rest of the season.”
Stone Bridge (0-1, 3-3) resumes Potomac District play when they host Briar Woods (1-0, 6-2) on January 6 in Ashburn, while Loudoun County (1-1, 2-4) looks to get back on track when they travel to Dulles District favorite Loudoun Valley (1-0, 4-0) on January 7.
“I was really proud of the mental fortitude we had to get over the hump,” Linder said. “It means a lot for our momentum going into the second half of the season.”
Stone Bridge Stats
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Loudoun County Stats
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