HARRISONBURG – It will be an all-Valley District state final: Broadway versus Spotswood.
To earn their fifth meeting with BHS this season, the Trailblazers did what SHS girls’ basketball coach Chris Dodson typically tries to avoid.
“Our game plan going into big games like this in big facilities is often to stay away from the 3-pointer,” Dodson said.
As it turned out, 3-point shooting is just another facet clicking for Spotswood late in the season.
Junior guard Elizabeth Dofflemyer scored a season-high 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-6 from long range, and the Blazers shot 60 percent from behind the arc in Saturday afternoon’s 75-52 win over Central-Woodstock in the 3A state semifinals at the Convocation Center.
Spotswood (26-1) will play Broadway (22-5) in the state championship game Thursday at the Siegel Center in Richmond at noon for a rare showdown.
Two girls’ basketball teams from the same district haven’t met in a Group AA state championship game since Lord Botetourt beat Blue Ridge District rival William Byrd 43-39 in the fall of 1995. (This season, the Virginia High School League went from three classifications to six.)
Spotswood improved to 6-2 in state final four games in Richmond, including state championship victories in 2005 and 2012.
“This is something that you’re not going to forget,” SHS senior forward Tayler Dodson said. “You’re going to be 30 and remember the state championship game. Win or lose, you have so much fun going there.”
The Blazers are 4-0 against Broadway this season, but the Gobblers gave them a little scare in the Conference 29 title game. BHS led 7-0 early and 25-14 in the second quarter before Spotswood went on a run.
“In the first quarter, they kind of had us on the ropes,” Tayler Dodson recalled. “We just did a lot of things right to come back, but they were on in that game. … It’s always a good game when we play them. It’s up and down. You never really know who’s going to pull it out in the end.”
There was little doubt which team would win Saturday, as the Blazers went ahead 21-19 and never trailed after a Dodson basket assisted by senior Rachel Lindsay with 5:19 left in the second quarter.
It was already raining 3s by then. SHS entered the game hitting just under 31 percent from 3-point range, averaging fewer than 10 attempts per game. Spotswood made 9 of 15 at the Convo.
But that wasn’t the only thing working for the Blazers, who showcased their typical pressure on defense and effective transition game. SHS had 17 points off 25 Central turnovers, outscoring the Falcons 12-0 on fast breaks.
And 6-foot Dodson still got her points inside.
Going up against a starting lineup that averaged 5-foot-5, Dodson had 17 points (9-for-10 on free throws) and led the Blazers with seven rebounds and seven assists.
“It felt exciting,” said Dofflemyer, who answered consecutive scoring possessions by Central in the second quarter with lead-changing 3-pointers. “… Once we made the first one, our rhythm was there and everybody started to make them.”
Defensively, SHS shut down senior guard Katelyn Poston, holding Central’s all-time leading scorer to just eight first-half points. Poston, who said the atmosphere of James Madison’s arena created some initial nervousness for the Falcons (19-9), had averaged 19.9 points per game and finished her career with 1,656.
“I think they more so just shadowed me more than box-and-one,” Poston said. “We kind of knew going in that they could possibly do that. But overall, they just have a really solid defensive team.”
Freshman Tamra Scott, a 5-foot-7 center, led Central with 22 points and 19 rebounds. CHS coach Mallory Skarupa called the performance Scott’s best of the season.
“We’re proud of everything we’ve accomplished this season, but again if we want to reach that next level, you need to go through teams like Spotswood and they are a true team in every sense of the word,” Skarupa said. “He’s got a great program over there. Everybody’s fundamentally sound and, man, did they shoot the ball well today.”
Making their sixth state semifinal appearance, the Blazers shot 47.1 percent (24-of-51) while holding Central to 31.7 percent (19-of-60).
Dofflemyer led the charge for Spotswood. She knocked down three 3-pointers while scoring 11 of her 26 points in the second quarter as SHS closed the first half on a 22-8 run.
“We have great shooters,” Coach Dodson said. “That’s why we don’t see a zone a lot of times, because we do shoot the ball so well at so many different positions. Central’s size – a lot like Broadway’s size – allowed us to go small and put four shooters on the floor.”
After Scott opened the third quarter with a basket for Central, the Blazers ripped off a 21-3 run during which McKenzie Jenkins inherited Dofflemyer’s hot hand. The junior guard buried a 3-pointer off a corner pass from Nikki Lam to cap the run, giving SHS a 62-32 lead with 2:25 left in the third.
Jenkins tallied 11 of her 13 points in a 2½ minute stretch, including all three of her 3-point attempts.
“I’ll give it some to Tayler, too,” Jenkins said. “We go inside out. She looks for us, and she trusts us.”
Jenkins had already hit a 3-pointer off an inbounds and converted a layup assisted by Dodson when she was left open in the corner. Recognizing the space, Dodson calmly told her teammate to “shoot it.” Jenkins pulled the trigger and scored en route to a 5-for-6 shooting performance.
“We drew up and we walked through how their zone defense works,” Coach Dodson said. “I think the big key today is how well we played together. We knew when Tayler touched the ball it was going to be four people around her, and we just kicked it out.
“… It seemed like every ball she kicked out, these guys made. You know, we have a philosophy. Once you make a 3, keep shooting.”
Poston 3-20 0-0 8, Wakeman 1-2 3-4 6, Pumphrey 2-5 0-0 4, Scott 9-15 4-6 22, Plum 2-6 1-4 5, Fields 0-1 0-0 0, Phillips 2-11 1-4 5, Payton 0-0 2-2 2. Totals: 19-60 11-20 52.
A. Patterson 0-1 0-0 0, DeLucas 3-6 0-0 7, Lindsay 0-5 3-4 3, Dofflemyer 9-12 4-5 26, Dodson 4-11 9-10 17, Jenkins 5-6 0-0 13, Bailey 0-1 0-0 0, Houlbrooke 0-1 0-0 0, Lam 3-5 2-4 9, L. Patterson 0-1 0-0 0, Bronaugh 0-1 0-0 0, Hagan 0-1 0-2 0. Totals: 24-51 18-25 75.
Central 9 18 8 17 – 52
Spotswood 10 31 25 9 – 75
3-Point Goals—Central 3-14 (Poston 2-9, Wakeman 1-2, Plum 0-3); SHS 9-15 (DeLucas 1-3, Lindsay 0-1, Dofflemyer 4-6, Jenkins 3-3, Lam 1-2). Fouls—Central 22; SHS 18. Fouled Out—Central (Truban). Rebounds—Central 39 (Scott 19); SHS 34 (Dodson 7). Assists—Central 10 (Plum, Phillips 3); SHS 15 (Dodson 7). Turnovers—Central 25; SHS 19.