Sterling, Va. – On a night celebrating the Park View High School girls basketball seniors, senior forward Gwen Balca came through with a stellar double-double performance to give her team a 41-31 win against Rock Ridge on February 3 in Sterling.
“It’s nice because it’s the second district win for us this year, and I think it shows we’re growing as a program,” Park View head coach Alyssa Mayrose said. “The seniors have put in the work over the four years to get us here, and tonight’s win is to honor them. I’m super proud of them.”
The Patriot victory did not come without a fight, though, as Rock Ridge opened up the scoring with a basket by sophomore guard Kalen Walker on the first possession of the game. From there, the teams traded free throws until Walker and senior forward Nadia Shanneb hit a couple 2-pointers to put the Phoenix up 9-4 after the first quarter.
“Kudos to Rock Ridge,” Mayrose said. “They always come out, and they’re fighting all the time.”
Rock Ridge carried that momentum into the second quarter with a basket by Shanneb and a couple converted free throws by junior guard Cora Bowen to extend their lead to 13-4.
Park View was finally able to stop the run thanks to baskets by their double-double achievers: Balca—14 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks, 4 steals—and junior guard Anna Helstrom—12 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists. Sophomore guard Kyra Hurley also got in on the action, scoring 7 of her 10 points during Park View’s 12-2 run to close out the first half and put the Patriots up 20-17.
“When Balca is the senior leader, people tend to come along,” Mayrose said. “This year she’s gotten some people to come along with her, so that’s important, and I’m hoping that continues as we grow this program.”
The third quarter was a back and forth battle, as Rock Ridge opened up the second half with a 2-pointer from Bowen to cut the Patriot lead to just 1. Balca answered with a basket of her own to go along with a free throw from Helstrom to extend the Park View lead to 23-19. But it was short-lived as Rock Ridge senior guard Sruthi Dacherla hit a 3-pointer to bring it within 1 again. Balca got inside for another basket, but Dacherla hit another long-range 3-pointer to tie the game 25-25. After another Park View basket and a couple free throws from Walker, the third quarter ended on a 27-27 tie.
The start of the fourth quarter was looking very reminiscent of the back and forth battle from the previous quarter as the teams traded points to open the frame. But Park View began to pull away thanks to a big 3-point shot by Hurley after a crucial timeout.
“Coach said, ‘Fight for your seniors,’” Balca said. “It was my last home game, so I wanted to give it my all and end on a good note.”
The Phoenix found themselves in foul trouble, and the Patriots capitalized on that to end the game on an 11-2 run for a 41-31 final score.
“It’s really nice to see the players playing in the system and executing at the end of the game,” Mayrose said. “I think it shows us that every game is a battle, and it doesn’t matter who we play.”
Park View (2-4, 8-12) will end their regular season on the road with games at Tuscarora on February 6 and Loudoun Valley on February 8. Rock Ridge (0-13, 0-20) will also close out the regular season and look to avenge earlier losses as they host Loudoun County on February 6 and travel to Lightridge on February 9.
“After all the ups and downs of the season, it’s a really nice wrap-up to the end of the home season,” Balca said.
Mike Ferrara captured 150+ photos at the game!
Park View Stats
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Rock Ridge Stats