Girls Basketball: Gritty Team Performance Leads Briar Woods Past Loudoun County

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Leesburg, Va. — Coming off a big win against rival Rock Ridge, the Briar Woods High School girls basketball team continued their winning ways when they travelled to Loudoun County High School on January 22. Led by senior point guard Marissa Almonte, the Falcons strung together a 41-19 second-half effort to defeat the Raiders, 62-42.

While Briar Woods dominated the second half, it was a slow start for the Falcons. Loudoun County rolled out a seemingly impenetrable zone defense, which helped forced three Briar Woods turnovers in the first two minutes of the game.

“We were trying to go one-pass shot, just trying to force some stuff,” Briar Woods head coach Raven Short said. “[We just needed to] be patient by reversing the ball.”

After Loudoun County sophomore guard Jenny Allen drew first blood for the Raiders with a deep shot from beyond the arc, Briar Woods junior forward Grace Nathan immediately answered with her own shot from downtown rendering the score, 3-3. Shortly after Briar Woods made a hockey-style sub midway through the first quarter, Loudoun County hit a big three, sparking six unanswered points to put the Raiders up, 9-3, midway through the first quarter.

A different Falcons team came out of the huddle to start the second quarter as Almonte stunned the entire Raider defense with her speed, scoring two quick buckets, tying the game at 11. After multiple back and forth exchanges, Almonte hit yet another shot from three which helped spark her successful second-half performance. Almonte’s second-quarter effort helped the Falcons pull within two, heading into the half trailing, 23-21.

In the first half, our efficiency from the field was poor, so I told the girls ‘get out and run,’ so we could get good looks and easy buckets.

—Briar Woods head coach Raven Short

The Falcons came out of the locker room energized, scoring first, tying the game. On top of the Briar Woods offense starting to come together, the Falcon defense started to force numerous Raider turnovers. Loudoun County, however, continued to draw contact and quickly took advantage at the charity stripe. Even with their success at the free throw line, the Raiders were outmatched on the glass and had succumbed to Briar Woods’ pace of play. The third quarter quickly came to a close with a Briar Woods advantage, 40-37.

Led by Almonte, the Falcons opened the fourth quarter on an 11-0 run. Loudoun County tried to stop the bleeding with a three ball, but it was in vain and too little, too late. Briar Woods continued its second-half dominance, and almost instantly, they were up 20, the difference by which they would win, 62-42.

“I think our transition game is essential, and our half court press gives us good opportunities,” Short said. “But in the first half, our efficiency from the field was poor, so I told the girls ‘get out and run,’ so we could get good looks and easy buckets.”

Almonte and the Falcons (3-2, 10-5) will look to stay hot as they travel to Potomac District No. 1 Woodgrove (5-0, 9-4) on January 24. The Raiders (2-3, 5-8) will look to bounce back when they host Dulles District No. 2 Tuscarora (5-1, 10-4) on the same night.

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