ERHS Just Perfect
Posted: February 6, 2013
STAUNTON — Before the East Rockingham girls’ basketball players took the floor Tuesday, they couldn’t help but recall the last time they played at Riverheads High School.
On Jan. 13, 2012, Madison Comer – then a freshman – made an 18-foot jumper with 2.3 seconds remaining to give East Rock a one-point win, 51-50, to keep alive what was then a 13-game winning streak.
The Eagles didn’t imagine that, playing on the same court a year later, the streak would still be alive, or that they’d be going for No. 50.
“I definitely didn’t think we’d get [to 50],” Comer said.
But there the Eagles were. This time, there was no doubt that the streak would survive, with East Rock scoring 31 of the game’s first 33 points in a 55-26 victory over the Gladiators to finish the regular season undefeated and win its 50th consecutive game.
“We got to 40, and we thought, ‘Wow, 40,’ and then when you get to 50, you start thinking, ‘Man, 50, that’s a milestone number,’” ERHS coach Paul Comer said.
It’s a remarkable number, one that’s been threatened on several occasions, including a couple of tight games against Broadway – the last team to beat East Rock, on Dec. 6, 2011. But none were closer than the win at Riverheads last season.
This time against the Gladiators (16-6 overall, 8-6 in the Shenandoah District), the Eagles (22-0, 14-0) pretty much sealed the outcome before halftime.
East Rock surrendered a 2-0 lead…and then scored 31 straight. Senior guard Jessica Lam had 15 points, senior forward Sarah Cameron added 11, and East Rock’s patented full-court, trapping press forced 33 turnovers in a classic display of why the Eagles are so unbeatable.
Another reason, perhaps, why the streak has lasted: The Eagles don’t feel pressured by it. Even Madison Comer – who you’d think would be in the know as Coach Comer’s daughter – incorrectly believed that Tuesday’s game marked the 49th straight win. She wasn’t corrected until after the game, when Coach Comer announced it in the locker room – the first time he had spoken about it that day.
“Nobody talked about it [the streak] much,” Comer said. “We were just trying to come out and close out the regular season on a roll, and go into the [district] tournament on a positive note.”
The top-seeded Eagles host a Shenandoah District quarterfinal at 6 p.m. Friday against Page County.
While the streak might not be the Eagles’ focus, it appears to be on the minds of plenty of others. Players say outsiders ask all the time where the streak is at, or wish them luck on keeping it alive.
But even with East Rock’s unblemished record, there are nay-sayers. Some say that the Eagles, who compete in Division 1 of Group A – the smallest public-school classification – have won so much because of a weak schedule. You can bet that criticism irks the players.
“Our schedule is not a piece of cake,” Lam said, pointing out wins over Division 4 Broadway and defending D-2 state champion George Mason.
ERHS opened in 2010 when Spotswood was split in half, putting familiar players from a winning Group AA program in a familiar system. It’s why Riverheads coach Tim Morris said he’s not at all surprised by the Eagles getting to 50 straight.
“They’re still used to being double-A athletes, and they came out of a successful program,” Morris said of ERHS. “No, it’s not a surprise.”
But to the Eagles, why they’re winning isn’t really important. With the district tournament opening Friday, it only matters to them that they keep doing it.
“I just told ’em in [the locker room], ‘If we run the table, it’s 59,” Coach Comer said. “You seniors can retire with 59 straight wins, two state titles, and we’ll call it a year and hibernate for a while.”
Until they go for No. 60.