Girls: Both Teams Confident
Posted: March 9, 2013
HARRISONBURG — In comparing this year’s Spotswood High School girls’ basketball team to the 2005 squad that won the state championship, coach Chris Dodson said the ’05 team had a constant hunger to win it all.
It’s a quality that he says this year’s Blazers occasionally lack.
But if they come out hungry in today’s state title game against Brunswick?
“We’ll win by 20,” Dodson said. “But this group is different. My god, they’re different. They drive me nuts. They’re so casual at times. They’re just like, ‘Coach, we’re going to win. Relax.’”
Dodson just hopes the confident Blazers (28-1) aren’t too relaxed when they play Brunswick (26-2) for the Division 3 girls’ title today at 11 a.m. at the Siegel Center in Richmond.
The athletic Bulldogs have reason to be confident, too – even if Spotswood is favored, given its talented depth and superior state tournament experience.
Brunswick’s only two losses this season have come against Group AAA’s Cosby and Princess Anne, a state finalist that the Bulldogs trailed 28-24 at halftime before losing, 64-42.
Making its first Group AA final-four this season after two straight state quarterfinal losses, Brunswick has averaged 69.6 points per game while allowing 32.2 for an impressive 37.4-point differential. And the Bulldogs have done it with an aggressive defense and team-oriented offense led by juniors Myneshia Walker and Desiray Bennett.
Last reported statistics during the postseason had Walker averaging 16.7 points, while Bennett was tallying 16.4 points and 9.8 rebound per game.
“It’s not a traditional team [1 through 5], but we have a lot of heart,” said BHS coach Juliana Lashley-Grant, noting that her tallest player is 5-foot-10. “…We’re not really a big team in terms of stature. We look at ourselves as a team of guards.”
Bennett appears to be Brunswick’s closest thing to a post player. But freshman Bria Stith – the daughter of former NBA and Virginia star Bryant Stith – is also basically averaging a double-double with 11.4 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.
“Of course, it’s Brunswick, so they have a Stith,” Dodson said. “A 5-foot, 10-inch Stith. …She runs the 4, blocks shots, rebounds.”
Brunswick will have a more narrow focus. Lashley-Grant said, based on her scouting report, the chief priority will be containing Spotswood’s two Division I prospects: Bailey Williams and Tayler Dodson. Williams, a senior point guard signed with North Carolina-Greensboro, and Dodson, a 6-foot junior forward eyeing Colonial Athletic Association teams, are both 1,000-point scorers.
“They’re very aggressive on offense as well,” said Lashley-Grant, aware of Spotswood’s frustrating defensive pressure, which has held playoff teams to 42.6 points per game. “It’s just going to be a matter of calls made by the officials, the tenacity not to quit, and hustle, I think.”
Williams, who has about 1,700 career points and is approaching 600 for the season, is a Group AA state Player of the Year candidate. She’s played on three of Spotswood’s five state final-four teams and has 43 points over SHS’s past two games.
The Trailblazers are seeking their first state championship since 2005, with their only loss this season coming against Germantown Academy (a prep school in Pennsylvania).
“[The 2005] group never had success, so they were hungry for success,” said Coach Dodson, who called his current team the more polished and skilled team. “This group has had a lot of success. They just haven’t won the big one.”