Ashburn, Va. — With the postseason quickly approaching, the Briar Woods Falcons (8-2, 19-3) were able to secure a 61-51 senior night win over the Riverside Rams (5-5, 13-8) to cap off an impressive district record on February 9 in Ashburn.
Coming into the matchup, playoff seeding was on the line, as both teams looked to improve their records with a chance to get a bye in the Potomac District playoffs.
From start to finish the intensity was high, as neither team could break away from the other. However, Briar Woods was able to maintain their composure down the stretch and went on a 16-5 run in the closing minutes to finish the regular season on a momentum-boosting win.
“Every team in our conference is very talented. On any night, any team can win,” Briar Woods head coach Raven Short said. “Preparation for end-game situations is very critical.”
In the end, the big factor that separated these two teams was the battle in the paint. Briar Woods outrebounded the Rams 42-19 with half of their rebounds coming on the offensive end.
Falcons junior forward Noelle Cabiness controlled the glass all night long totaling 13 points and 14 rebounds in one of her biggest games of the season.
“I was able to value the ball more, look both in and out of the play, look for my shot, and look for any drives I can take,” Cabiness said.
In honor of senior night, Briar Woods started both of their senior guards: Manasi Manikantan and Katelyn Smith. In their last regular season games, the pair got the opportunity to get playing time for the first few minutes of the contest and at the end as well. On top of that, Smith was able to score late in the fourth quarter which sent the Briar Woods student section into a frenzy.
”We were able to get the win for the seniors who put a lot into this program,” Short said.
The Riverside Rams—who haven’t allowed more than 44 points in each of the last three games—continued their defensive dominance in the first half, especially on Briar Woods leading scorer Hope Drake.
One game removed from hitting 1,000 career points, Drake was limited to only 9 points in the first three quarters which was a key reason why the Rams stayed in the game.
Additionally, Riverside junior guard Ella Mahaffey continued to impress, scoring 18 points along with 2 rebounds and 2 steals as well.
With the regular season now wrapped up, both teams turn their focus towards the district playoffs which start on February 13. Since Briar Woods secured the win, they will finish with the No. 2 seed in the Potomac District which will get them a first round bye.
On the other hand, the Riverside Rams finish district play as the No. 3 seed and will start their hopeful playoff run at home against No. 6 Independence with the winner set to play Briar Woods in a district semifinal on February 15.
“For us, it’s just ending the regular season on a good note,” Short said. “It’s a big time team win for us.”