Leesburg, Va. — The saying “basketball is a game of runs” could not have been more evident when the Tuscarora High School girls basketball team hosted Sherando in the VHSL Region 4C championship on February 23 in Leesburg.
Fortunately for the Huskies, their two runs came at the right time as they jumped out to an early lead, weathered a second-quarter storm, then went on a 19-2 run during a stretch of the third and fourth quarters to outlast the Warriors, 43-29, and bring home their first ever region title.
Led by junior forward Alysa Carrigan, the Huskies quickly jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, while holding Sherando bucketless through the first quarter.
The Warriors finally made a field goal a minute in the second quarter, which helped spark a 15-4 run of their own as Sherando took a 15-14 lead into the half.
As the third quarter started, it appeared the low-scoring first half might have been a fluke as Sherando senior shooting guard Grace Burke and junior guard Asia Williams each knocked down a three to extend the Warriors lead to 23-16.
“Our goal was just to work really hard and make them work for every shot attempt they got,” Tuscarora head coach Tayler Dodson said. “Burke still got off some really awesome shots; she’s a great player, so she’s going to do that, but I think, ultimately, our defense worked hard and bought in.”
Those six points would be the last of the third quarter for Sherando, as Tuscarora senior point guard Grace Middleton put her game face on.
They made their run, they punched us in the mouth, but Grace [Middleton] made a big play in the third then we felt like we were back in control.
—Tuscarora head coach Tayler Dodson said
After getting to the basket for a finish, Middleton then saw her first three of the night go through, and the Huskies’ faithful felt the momentum shift. On the next Tuscarora possession, Middleton struck again, burying another triple from behind the arc as the Huskies closed the third quarter on an 11-0 run to take a 27-23 lead.
“Even though they were playing a zone, we tried to make some adjustments to run some of our man stuff and get to the rim,” Dodson said. “That’s where we felt we were going to be a better team.”
The Huskies carried their late third quarter momentum into the fourth as Middleton scored early to extend the Tuscarora lead to six. Then senior guards Colette Morris and Camryn Worley got in on the action, scoring two each, before Carrigan knocked down a jumper as the Huskies opened up a 35-25, their largest lead since their 10-0 run to start the night.
“Alysa has been huge for us down the stretch,” Dodson said. “She’s just continuing to grow and come into her own, and her confidence has just skyrocketed. We just keep pushing her.”
With a 10-point lead, the Huskies dialed up the defense, holding the Warriors to just two points over the course of a 19-2 run between the middle of the third and middle of the fourth quarters. And even when the run ended, Sherando never got rolling again as Tuscarora held the Warriors to just six points in the fourth.
When the final horn sounded, the Tuscarora Huskies hoisted the VHSL Region 4C trophy—their first region title in program history.
The win earns Tuscarora (15-0, 25-2) “home” court advantage as they will host Region 4D runner up Louisa County in a VHSL Class 4 State quarterfinal at Riverside High School on March 3.
“Our region matches up with regions pretty far away, and that 4-hour bus ride is a pain,” Dodson said. “It’s great to be able to play locally, save our legs, and stay in this area to play.”
Derrick Jerry captured 150+ photos at the game!