PENN LAIRD – The Gobblers are back in the Valley District championship game, and they might be more dangerous than ever.
Broadway High School coach Bobby Mongold said Tuesday’s performance in the Valley District semifinals — a 54-35 win over Harrisonburg — was what he envisioned his team’s offense looking like all season, with more than one forward thriving in the post and senior forward Heather Cantrell creating a high-post presence.
Cantrell, naturally like honey to a swarm of defenders down low, knocked down two jumpers near the free-throw line and added a top-of-the-key 3-pointer to start opening space for Brianna Zook. The duo combined for 35 points, including 14 of the team’s 17 free throws, as Broadway defeated the Blue Streaks. BHS will face Spotswood at 6 p.m. in the Valley’s championship game Friday at SHS.
Harrisonburg will likely play Broadway (17-4) again in the Region III, Division 4 quarterfinals at BHS on Feb. 18, according to Mongold.
The Blue Streaks (10-10) have probably seen enough of Cantrell.
Her three jumpers came during an 18-0 run that broke open a tie game and put the Gobblers comfortably ahead 33-15 at halftime. Freshman point guard Kierstin Roadcap capped the rally with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer on a swing pass from Cantrell.
“That’s the way our offense is supposed to run,” Mongold said.
Cantrell scored 10 of her game-high 19 points during a second quarter in which BHS shot 8-for-11 from the floor.
“When she’s hot, we need to keep passing it to her, because she can make them,” said Zook, whose chemistry with Cantrell has grown this season.
In the fourth quarter, HHS coach Bill Bayer kept many of his substitutes in the game and the move appeared to pay off offensively and on the boards.
After Keyana Whitley-Duncan scored all six of the Streaks’ points in the third quarter, junior Simara Allen came off the bench and snagged Harrisonburg’s first offensive rebound of the second half and nailed a 3-pointer.
Freshman Kendyl Brooks did the same with 4:45 left in the third to keep a 10-0 run going. Then, junior Ny’Asia Brooks and sophomore Kara Simmons scored on second chances to pull HHS within 45-31. But the Gobblers snapped out of their rebounding funk to win by 19, holding a commanding edge on the boards overall, 34-21.
“We did try to slow it down in the fourth quarter, working on our delay game some. You know, we have to be able to play both styles,” Mongold said. “But give Harrisonburg credit. They played hard. They could’ve rolled over.”
HHS fans voiced their frustration with the officiating for most of the game, as Harrisonburg was called for 20 fouls compared to Broadway’s nine. The Gobblers went 17-of-25 at the line, with Zook leading the charge (8-for-11).
The Streaks made just two trips to the foul line, going 2-for-3. Junior Sydney Knupp, who totaled a team-high 31 points combined in two regular-season losses to BHS, hit both of her free throws but managed only eight points, dealing with foul trouble.
Whitley-Duncan also finished with eight points for HHS.
“It’s pretty tough to overcome that [foul] differential,” Bayer said. “And we missed a lot of shots. I think we probably missed 12 or 13 layups. I think the kids we put in during the fourth quarter played really well. We had to deal with a tough game last night. … We looked a little sluggish to me, and those kids really came in and added some energy. Maybe I should’ve given them a shot a little earlier.”